ASSAf Programmes

ASSAf originally constituted its Standing Committee on Science for Poverty Alleviation (CSfPA) in 2006 to contribute to one of the five new national missions outlined in South Africa’s Research and Development (R&D) Strategy.

Over the years, a number of forum-type studies on selected topics relevant to the challenge of poverty alleviation were conducted.

Proceedings reports that were produced were “Science-based Improvements of Rural/Subsistence Agriculture” (2007) and “Local and Economic Development in Small Towns, Housing Delivery and Impact on the Environment” (2009).

Regular meetings of the committee ceased from 2008, but in late-2014, the committee was revitalised and renamed the Committee on Science for the Reduction of Poverty and Inequality. The committee is in the process of identifying its priorities.

The members of the committee are:


Julian May (CHAIR)

Institute for Social Development (UWC)


Johann Kirsten

Bureau for Economic Research (SU)


Philani Moyo

Department of Sociology (UFH)


Philip Harrison

School of Architecture and Planning (Wits)


Jimi Adesina

College of Graduate Studies (UNISA)


Fiona Tregenna

Department of Economics and Econometrics (UJ)


Imraan Valodia

Commerce, Law and Management (Wits)


Isobel Frye

Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute


Babatunde Omilola

Development Planning and Inclusive Sustainable Growth (UNDP)


Sipho Pityana

Izingwe Holdings


Leila Patel

Centre for Social Development in Africa (UJ)


Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA)

The challenges faced by Africa due to extreme poverty were scrutinised at the 12th Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA) jointly hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). The theme of the meeting was Poverty Reduction. 

Poverty eradication has been identified as the first Sustainable Development Goal as it remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Globally, more than 800 million people are lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation.  

Although economic growth in countries such as China and India has contributed to the alleviation of poverty, progress has been slow in regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The latter accounts for 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty. Women are also more likely to be subjected to poverty than men due to unequal access to paid work, education and property. Africa faces the additional threats of climate change, conflict and food insecurity.

Measuring Deprivation in order to promote Human Development in South Africa

Poverty reduction is a critical factor outlined in both the Millennium Developmental Goals 2015 (MDGs) and the National Developmental Plan (NDP) – Vision 2030. In order for South Africa to make progress in this regard, definitions of the different forms of deprivation and human development and indicators for their measurement are needed to monitor and evaluate any programme implemented to reduce poverty. A workshop on Measuring Deprivation in order to promote Human Development in South Africa was held at Misty Hills, Muldersdrift, Gauteng on 9 & 10 June 2015. The workshop aimed to outline the significance of establishing and using definitions and measures that are applicable to and useful in the South African context. Click here for the Proceeding Report.

Aim and objectives

  • Enhance understanding of poverty and its different dimensions.
  • Enhance understanding of the debates over the types of measures required to monitor the different dimensions of poverty and the levels at which poverty thresholds should be set and by whom.
  • Document the phases and substance of the poverty measurement debate in post-apartheid South Africa and the details surrounding this discussion.