Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty in our nation

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty in our nation
It goes without saying that poverty is a large and ongoing problem right across Africa. A government report released recently indicated that poverty was on the decline in South Africa - this is good news, for sure, but it's quite telling when you examine exactly what is meant by "poverty", and when you realise just how many people in our nation are still living in these circumstances.

The percentage of households living below the poverty line decreased from 53% in 1995 to 48% in 2005. The poverty line is set at R322 per person per month. That's the cost of a restaurant meal for two here in South Africa. Read that again. Almost HALF of the people in our country have to cover ALL their living expenses out of LESS than the amount we spend on a single dinner. Sobering, isn't it?

(For our overseas readers, R322 is roughly equivalent to $34, £19 or €25.)

So, what can we do? Well, for starters, how about taking the money you would have spent on a meal at a restaurant and donating it to Breadline Africa instead? They are involved in a number of projects across the continent, including converting old shipping containers into much-needed classrooms and soup kitchens.

To have an impact on an ongoing basis, support job creation initiatives like The Big Issue and Men on the Side of the Road, give to a local homeless shelter, buy beadwork and paintings from roadside traders, and provide casual employment where you can. If you live overseas, but would like to help beat poverty in Africa, set up a debit order to donate money to an organisation like Breadline Africa each month. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment and tell us about them.

Today's photo is of Kayamandi, a poor community on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Overseas visitors are often shocked to find out what being poor means here - while in the USA it might mean living in a small run-down apartment or a trailer park, here it means living in a corrugated iron shack the size of a bathroom, or sleeping on a flattened cardboard box underneath a bridge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *