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Report Launch: Social Exclusion and Poverty Traps among Children in South Africa

With the release of the Living  Conditions Survey of 2009, its data indicated wide and deeply worrisome disparities between children living in poverty and children not living in poverty, with respect to full access to such basic needs as water, sanitation, refuse removal, electricity and formal housing. The data also indicated that there were certain groups of children who suffered from such lack to a greater extent and were more deeply mired in poverty than others.

Poverty, inequality and exclusion are hallmarks of a highly iniquitous society. In order for the rights of all children to be realised, it is essential that this gap- and the resultant chasms in service delivery and overall quality of life- be removed. The child population is one of the segments of the population more prone to becoming trapped in poverty and therefore the most logical site for successful poverty-ending intervention.  The publication seeks to explore the kind of intervention that would be necessary to bring this about through literature reviews and policy simulations.

This research report investigates the extent to which groups of children are caught up in the intersection of poverty and exclusion, what the characteristics of these children are and to what extent they are or are not reached by policies and the additional efforts necessary to break free from the surrounding traps.

The purpose of the report is to contribute to on-going efforts geared towards the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030. The NDP’s aim to eliminate poverty in South Africa by 2030 is not feasible without a greater understanding of how some children have escaped poverty and exclusion whilst others have not, especially considering  the implementation of democratic and economic reforms in the mid to late 1990s.

The South African Human Rights Commission’s role in this project is as an institution firmly committed to the reduction of poverty and inequality; particularly among society’s most vulnerable members. It is constitutionally mandated to promote, protect and monitor  the realisation of human rights in South Africa. The rights of children are one of the focal areas of the Commission and therefore form the focus of this publication.

South Africa is currently undergoing change that will affect the state machinery and policy framework. The Commission and its partners believe that this is a timely  intervention  that has the capacity to make a real impact on the lives of children and their families. In addition to providing an illustration of where we currently are as a nation, the study provides a roadmap of where South Africa should focus in shaping the future of its children.

The process in developing this study has been a consultative one, and the Commission is deeply grateful to its partners for participating in this initiative. It has been a privilege to work with some of South Africa’s foremost experts in the field in the compilation of this publication, which represented an important opportunity to explore and understand the dynamics of poverty traps and social exclusion, and how these phenomena might be transcended through policy choices. The Commission thus takes great pride in introducing this initiative and it is our hope that others will benefit from it in their work with children.

Lindiwe Mokate
Commissioner: Basic Education and Children
South African Human Rights Commission

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