South Africa has recorded a drop in poverty levels, with the number of people living below the poverty line having dropped since 2006, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said today.
“[Poverty] is indeed being tackled,” said Statistician General Pali Lehohla at the release of the Poverty Trends Report (2006-2011).
In the document, Stats SA notes that the country’s poverty levels have dropped since 2006, reaching 45.5% in 2011 when applying the upper-bound poverty line. The country has a set of three national poverty lines, namely the food poverty line (FPL); the lower-bound poverty line (LBPL) and the upper-bound poverty line (UBPL), which are used to measure poverty.
The FPL is the level of consumption below which people are unable to buy enough food to provide them with an adequate diet. The LBPL includes non-food items, but requires that individuals sacrifice food in order to obtain these, while individuals at the UBPL can purchase both adequate food and non-food items.
“This translates into roughly 23 million people living below the upper-bound poverty line. When one looks at extreme poverty, defined as those living below the food poverty line, we can see the dramatic impact the global financial crisis of 2008/09 has had on the livelihoods of South Africa's poorest.
“The number of people living below the food line increased to 15.8 million in 2009, from 12.6 million in 2006, before dropping to 10.2 million people in 2011,” the report reads.
The FPL was at R321 (per capita per month in 2011 prices), LBPL at R443 and UBPL at R620.
The report analysed trends in poverty and inequality between 2006 and 2011 based on data collected through the Income and Expenditure Survey and the Living Conditions Survey.
Briefing reporters in Pretoria, Lehohla said that social grants, income growth and the expansion of credit had contributed to a drop in poverty levels.
“It has been driven largely by social grants, which covered from 2.6 million people to 16 million people as we speak. Salaries have also increased, therefore having an impact on poverty. We also see unsecured loans creeping into society,” he told SAnews.
Impact of social grants
Lehohla said social grants have played a critical role in society. “They have played a critical and important role in society. Social grants have moved people from abject poverty to a different and better condition. In fact, they have extended possibilities for children to go to school and increased the ability of people to look for jobs,” he said.
However, given the constraints to the fiscus, social grants were unsustainable, he said.
The report found that poor households spent 33% of their money on food, while women were also found to be more affected by poverty compared to their male counterparts. The poorest province was found to be the Eastern Cape, while KwaZulu-Natal had the poorest municipalities.
On progress towards the National Development Plan (NDP) target of eliminating poverty by 2030, the report noted that the National Planning Commission (NPC) adopted the use of the lower-bound poverty line (R443 in 2011 prices) with regard to its poverty targets outlined in the NDP.
“They have set the ambitious target of eliminating all poverty below this line by 2030. As of 2011, 32.3% of the population, or roughly 16.3 million, people were living below this poverty line. According to the poverty gap, roughly R31.7 billion per annum would be needed to eliminate poverty at this level,” noted the report.