A new report released by the World Bank in collaboration with the government has shown that South Africa’s social assistance programmes effectively reduce poverty and inequality rates.
The report also states that social grants in the form of cash transfers are having a positive and important impact on a wide variety of outcomes, including nutrition and food security, educational attainment, health, labour supply, and livelihood.
SOCIAL GRANTS PROTECT VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND CHILDREN
“South Africa’s strong and effective social protection programs have helped protect vulnerable people and ensured that they can meet their basic needs, especially during the pandemic when limited fiscal resources are under pressure,” said Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, the World Bank Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Namibia.
Some of the system’s shortcomings identified in the report include limited support to working-age adults and informal workers in particular; weak integration across programs and government agencies; and the system’s limited ability to address household needs comprehensively.
To support households more comprehensively, the report suggests continuing to strengthen the integration of the social assistance system with services provided by departments such as the Basic Education, Health, Public Works and Home Affairs.
FOCUS SHOULD BE ON UNEMPLOYED YOUTH
Marie-Nelly said: “It is our hope that this research will enhance policies to ensure that the important investments the government is already making will help to break the cycle of poverty for the next generation, keep children healthy and in school, and help households transition from social grants to more sustainable income-generating opportunities.
To support social grant beneficiaries to transition to jobs, the report suggests strengthening the quality and reach of the public and non-government employment service programs and providing easier access for grant beneficiaries.
It also suggests building out the government’s new youth platform to better connect South Africa’s youth to job opportunities and provide more resources for jobseekers.