Poverty and livelihoods

Factors contributing to the demise of informal enterprises: evidence from a Cape township

Andrew Hartnack, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation on 16 January 2017
Reads 7,916

The reasons for the closure of fairly well-established informal enterprises are varied. Between 2010 and 2015, in the Cape Flats township of Delft South, a key factor was the failure to respond adequately to the more entrepreneurial business model of foreign traders and the strict enforcement of unfavourable liquor trading policies. Still, household misfortunes and broader socio-cultural dynamics also played crucial roles. A richer understanding of why enterprises shut down should inform policy to foster the sustainability of informal enterprises.

Do poor children really benefit from the child support grant?

Marisa Coetzee, University of Stellenbosch on 10 July 2014
Reads 26,681

The child support grant has been praised as one of the government’s most successful anti-poverty programmes. The rapid extension of the grant increases the importance of ascertaining its effectiveness: does the child support grant make any real difference to the lives of the millions of children who receive it? Using the 2008 NIDS data, a recently published study identifies a significant positive impact on recipient children’s health, nutrition and education as a result of receiving the grant.

Poverty may have declined, but deprivation and poverty are still worst in the former homelands

Michael Noble, Southern African Social Policy Research Institute on 27 May 2014
Reads 11,954

Former homeland areas continue to have significantly higher levels of deprivation and poverty than the rest of South Africa. Of all the former homeland areas, the erstwhile Transkei in the Eastern Cape has the highest levels of deprivation (measured using the Index of Multiple Deprivation for 2011) as well as income poverty. Indeed, the deprivation gap between former homelands and the rest of South Africa has not declined in the period 2001 to 2011.

Poverty may have declined, but women and female-headed households still suffer most

Michael Rogan, Rhodes University on 6 May 2014
Reads 27,186

Amidst a decline in general poverty rates since 2000, women and people living in female-headed households still are significantly worse off. Women are up to 30% poorer than men on average. There is an even larger poverty gap between female- and male-headed households – a difference of as much as 100%, despite improved education, health and basic services. Better health, water and sanitation services, especially in rural areas, should narrow these gaps significantly.

Cape Town’s trade in wild medicines: ecological threat or essential livelihood resource?

Leif Petersen, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation on 29 January 2014
Reads 11,105

Cape Town is the urban centrepiece of a globally unique and highly diverse natural environment which should take priority in conservation management. But these biological assets also directly serve a local market of over 5 100 traditional healers and herbalists. The author discusses this important informal economy, business and cultural activity in the face of the broadening threats to conservation in the region, and the growing potential tension this presents in terms of policy and management.

How did hunger levels in the former homelands catch up with the rest of South Africa? A hundred years after the Land Act of 1913

Dieter von Fintel, University of Stellenbosch on 14 January 2014
Reads 9,987

A century after the Land Act of 1913, and 20 years after the abolition of homelands, differences in poverty persist between the former homeland areas and the rest of South Africa. However, remarkably, hunger gaps between the former homelands and other regions have been eliminated in the post-apartheid era. The main cause has been the disproportionately high number of persons eligible for social grants in the former homelands, rather than increased food production or higher labour market incomes due to land reform.

Why are foreign-run spaza shops more successful? The rapidly changing spaza sector in South Africa

Rory Liedeman, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation on 13 November 2013
Reads 63,422

This article examines the contrasting business models in the spaza shop sector, and compares foreign-run businesses with South African businesses. We argue that foreign shop keepers are more successful than South Africans because of the strength of their social networks, which provide them with access to labour and capital and enable collective purchasing and market domination. The article argues for a two-pronged policy that would formalise larger shops whilst permitting and encouraging informal micro and survivalist businesses.

The significant decline in poverty in its many dimensions since 1993

Arden Finn, University of Cape Town on 29 July 2013
Reads 13,217

The measurement of poverty should include dimensions of well-being that cannot be measured in monetary terms. Data on health, education and standards of living can be used to calculate a so-called Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Results suggest that both the prevalence and the intensity of multidimensional poverty fell significantly from 1993 to 2010. The decline in multidimensional poverty is much greater than the decline in poverty as measured in terms of income and/or expenditure. Better social services and infrastructure have played a large role.

The unemployment debate is too fragmented to address the problem

Frederick C.v.N Fourie, University of the Free State on 18 November 2012
Reads 11,181

The debate on unemployment is fragmented into at least three sub-discourses, i.e. those of macroeconomists, labour economists and poverty analysts. This results in inconclusive analyses and narrow, flawed proposals to address the problem. This fragmentation feeds into the policy field. Sustainable and consistent remedies for unemployment and poverty will require an integrated analysis that covers the formal sector, the informal economy and survivalist activities – and especially linkages and barriers between these segments.

Is informality being disallowed by government?

Andrew Charman, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation on 11 November 2012
Reads 14,631

The South African government continues to pursue efforts to 'migrate' informal enterprises to the formal sector. This article examines the impact of regulations and law enforcement on the 'lived' economy of informal micro-entrepreneurs. Spatial analysis shows how the scope and distribution of informal economic activities are directly affected by regulation, land use planning and other controls. Such controls that effectively disallow informality are poor-unfriendly and harm livelihoods, self-employment and employment.