How to reduce poverty and inequality in South Africa

How to reduce poverty and inequality in South Africa
What should be done to reduce poverty and inequality in South Africa? This topic came under the spotlight at the first of three webinars on poverty and inequality reduction in South Africa. ASSAf, in partnership with the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), hosted the webinar that focussed on what the data says about the various potential of social grants and expanded public works programmes to meet this objective.

Co-hosted by Ms Isobel Frye, Director of SPII, webinar presenters included Dr Reza Daniels of the School of Economics from University of Cape Town (UCT), Ms Grace Bridgman from Stellenbosch University (SU) and Ms Shirin Motala from the Inclusive Economic Development (IED) Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Discussions focussed on the evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) data of impact of the social grants during the advent of the Covid pandemic and the evaluation of impact of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

The key reflections from the presenters include:

  1. Cash transfers had a direct impact upon recipients, with the child support grant and the old age grant being the most targeted. Women, however, had less emergency support despite being worse affected by the Covid pandemic and taking on the burden of care.
  2. There are three outcomes that public employment programmes are expected to achieve: sustainable household livelihoods, skills development and provision of assets and services. The EPWP had a measurable impact on participants’ lives with more than 56% reporting that more than 50% of their gross household income came from the programme. However, EPWPs are temporary, and thus the impact on people’s quality of life after cessation is limited.

The webinar was attended by over 65 individuals representing academia, government, civil society and the media. The webinar recording and presentations can be accessed here.

Subsequent webinars will focus on how to fund interventions to reduce poverty and what is to be done if the state is to be capable of poverty and inequality reduction.

The webinar series is an initiative of ASSAf’s Standing Committee on the Science for the Reduction of Poverty and Inequality, a response to a mandate issued by the ASSAf Council to focus on poverty and inequality in respect to the pandemic, and to consult interdisciplinary science in the consideration of how to reduce poverty and inequality.