South Africa urgently needs new policy ideas to reverse the alarming increase in poverty among its population. New figures reveal an increase of three million South Africans living in poverty over the last five years. More than half (55%) of the population lives on less than R1,138 (USD$107) a month, up from 53% in 2011.

In a country with 55 million people, 34 million are going without some of the basic necessities, like housing, transport, food, heating and proper clothing. The escalation in hardship and vulnerability reverses the steady progress made since the 1990s.

The poorest have been hit the hardest. One in four citizens survives on less than R531 a month and can’t afford to buy enough food to keep healthy. This proportion has risen from one in five in 2011.

The consequences are plain to see. They include more street begging, homelessness, loan sharks, social discontent, substance misuse and violent crime in many communities. Income is not the only measure of poverty. Progress on education, health and basic living conditions also seems to have stalled….more