Reducing poverty and inequality is the overriding concern of South Africa’s development policies and programs, from the onset of democracy in 1994 in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to the current National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP). The guiding principle, as captured in the NDP, is that “no political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life.

Attacking poverty and deprivation must be the first priority of a democratic government”. The NDP posits that to raise the living standards to the minimum required level will involve various mechanisms, such as increasing employment, incomes, productivity as well as through social protection and quality public services. The measure of success of government’s development policies will be when the lives and opportunities of poorest South Africans are transformed for the better

However, poverty in South Africa is a multifaceted and dynamic phenomenon, especially given the country’s history and depth of inequality in assets, income and opportunities. It is therefore crucial to aim for poverty reduction through adaptive strategies taking into consideration the changing fundamentals over space and time. During the first week of September, a team of our experts provided technical assistance to the national statistical service of South Africa, Stats SA, in Pretoria, for a study on Multidimensional Child Poverty in South Africa. In the upcoming months, SPRI will remotely assist Stats SA to produce a high quality and comprehensive report which identifies the complex situation of child poverty in the country in order to guide social policies.

Supporting governments to measure and monitor child poverty is one of the key activities carried out by SPRI Global in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. This includes looking at both monetary and non-monetary factors that affect child well-being, such as access to basic health services, sanitation facilities and schools, availability of a healthy diet and safe drinking water, emotional and physical safety, and minimum standard housing conditions. Understanding both the monetary and multi-dimensional nature of child poverty is critical to inform the design and implementation of national social policies and programs that most effectively respond to children’s needs. This is particularly important in the region as more children suffer from multi-dimensional poverty than monetary poverty.