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Social Grants Help Eradicate Poverty in South Africa - Minister Dlamini

Social Grants Help Eradicate Poverty in South Africa - Minister Dlamini

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini says government has done well in reducing poverty and hunger over the past 20 years. 

She said this on Monday as the United Nations meets in New York to discuss progress made by countries on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is a top priority of the MDGs.

Dlamini said there were some challenges but ranked South Africa highly compared to other countries in meeting this particular goal.

“Social protection has done a lot to improve the quality of life for our people, particularly girls and women. Most of the time when you talk about poverty, the first people that get affected are women,” she said.

“When you talk about social protection, you talk about access to health services and access to school, so you reduce poverty all round and improve a life. That is what we have done as a country.”

According to recent statistics, the poverty rate in South Africa dropped by 11% between 2009 and 2011 as government expanded welfare grants which saw the number of social grant beneficiaries growing from 2 million in 1994 to about 16 million in February 2013. Of these, an estimated 11 million are Child Support Grant beneficiaries.

“Grants have proved to be very helpful in eradicating poverty and keeping children in schools. What I want to see now is for women to be empowered so they can contribute towards the development of their children and themselves,” said Dlamini.

'Some challenges'

Statistics released erly this year showed that 23% of households in KwaZulu-Natal, 18% in the Eastern Cape and 16% in Limpopo lived in poverty.

Of the top 10 municipalities with the highest levels of poverty in South Africa, six were in the Eastern Cape.

Ntabankulu municipality showed the highest level of poverty at 34%. This was followed by Port St Johns with 28%; Engcobo at 27%; Ngquza Hill at 27% and Umzimvubu municipality at 25%.

Photo caption: Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini. Image: Department of Social Development.