My friend is suffering because in the morning he doesn't eat, only at break at school he eats with me and at night he doesn't eat, and his [he's] unhealthy. Every month a different thing that we need. Food, stationary, uniform, transport money, school fees (Boy, 10, NP)
(ACESS report Children Speak Out on Poverty)
The UN Convention says:
Every child has a right to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
Right to social security – while the family has the basic responsibility of care for its children, the state needs to provide comprehensive social security programmes to assist families, when necessary, to care for their children with regard to all their needs, including food, shelter, health-care, education and protection from neglect and abuse.
South African Constitution - Bill of Rights
Children are specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights, and every child has the right to nutrition, shelter, basic health-care services, basic education and social services.
This is interpreted to include the right of children to have special services if they need them, such as hearing-aids for those with a hearing disability, or special education for the children living with a cognitive impairment, and so on.
Food security: A study undertaken in 2000 revealed that nationally, one out of every 10 children (10.3%) was found to be underweight. In July 2005, there were 3.9 million children living in households across who sometimes, often or always went hungry because there was not enough food. This means that 22% of all children in the country experienced hunger.
Shelter: Over 4.8 million children – more than a quarter of all children in – lived in overcrowded households in 2005. Over-crowding is a problem because it can undermine children's other needs and rights – for instance, the rights to education, privacy, health and protection from abuse.
Sanitation: In 2005, just over half (54%) of South Africa's children had access to adequate toilet facilities, while the other 8.4 million were using inadequate facilities – including unventilated pit toilets, the bucket system or open fields.
Clean water: Across in 2005, there were some 7.5 million children whose families had to rely on unsafe or distant sources of drinking water. They made up 42% of all children in .
Health: Diseases of poverty, which comprise of diarrhoeal disease, lower respiratory infections and protein-energy malnutrition, account for at least 30% of all under-five child deaths.
Education: Of the 417,705 children of school-going age who were not attending an educational facility at the time of the General Household Survey 2005, the majority (74%) were children aged 13 – 17 years.
(Figures taken from South African Child Gauge 2007/2008 Proudlock P, Dutschke M, Jamieson L, Monson J & Smith C (eds) 2008, Children's Institute, University of Cape Town )
Poverty in families is alleviated by Social Security legislation that provides the following grants for South African citizens:
Social Relief of Distress Child Support Grant for children up to age 15 (from 2009)
Foster Care Grant for children 0-18 (can be extended if child at school)
Care Dependency Grant for children 1-18 living with a severe disability
Old Age Grant (for women over 60 and men over 65)
Disability Grant (from 18 until qualify for Old Age Grant)
War Veteran Grant (60 years or older, usually)
Children living who are not South African citizens, but are in need of social assistance,
are eligible for grants and services.
Details of these grants and how to access them can be obtained from http://www.sassa.gov.za . There is also material assistance available for temporary relief of distress, in cash or kind, for people who are unable to meet their family's most elementary needs.
More needs to be done
The poverty gap - inequality between rich and poor - has grown faster than the economy indicating that poor households have not shared in the benefits of economic growth.
An adequate response to poverty requires a multi-sectoral, multi-faceted approach which relies heavily on social policies and incorporates poverty alleviating programmes, integrated development plans, capacity-development of communities, service delivery, and, not least, comprehensive social security or 'safety-nets'. Redistribution of income through social assistance programmes is an effective poverty alleviating strategy, and in the case of children in dire need, essential to meet their basic needs