Living conditions in South Africa has improved over the years, according to the 2016 General Household Survey.
More households in South Africa have access to improved sanitation, piped water, electricity, health and education, according to the report released by Statistics SA on Wednesday.
The report shows the percentage of individuals that benefited from social grants consistently increased from 12.7% in 2003 to 29.9% in 2016.
Simultaneously, the percentage of households that received at least one grant increased from 29.9% to 44.8% in 2016.
“More than one-third of individuals in the Eastern Cape (40.8%), Limpopo (37.6%), Northern Cape (37.1%) and KwaZulu-Natal (36.0%) were grant beneficiaries, compared to 16.9% in Gauteng and 22.0% in the Western Cape.
“More than one-third of black African individuals (32.9%) received a social grant, compared to 27.2% of coloured individuals, 11.5% of Indian/Asian individuals and 6.2% of the white population,” the report found.
The report also found that between 2002 and 2016, the percentage of households that experienced hunger decreased from 23.8% to 11.8%, while the percentage of individuals who experienced hunger decreased from 29.3% to 13.4%.
About 13.5% of South Africans households were living in RDP or State subsidised dwellings, up from 5% in 2002.
Some residents have, however, raised concerns about the quality of subsidised houses, with 10.7% saying that the walls were weak or very weak, while 10.4% regarded the dwellings’ roofs as weak or very weak, according Statistician General Pali Lehohla.
Electricity and quality of water, sanitation improves
The national percentage of households connected to electricity supply increased from 77.1% in 2002 to 84.2% in 2016.
The report further found that nationally, 63% of households rated the quality of water-related services they received as ‘good’.
Although 88.8% of South African households had access to piped water in 2016, only 75.1% of households in Limpopo and 75.7% of households in Eastern Cape enjoyed such access. A further 26.8% accessed water on site, while 13.3% relied on communal taps and 2.4% relied on neighbours’ taps. About 3.7% of households still had to fetch water from rivers, streams, stagnant water pools and dams, wells and springs.
More South Africans also had access to sanitation from 62.3% in 2002 to 80.9% in 2016.
“The majority of households in Western Cape (94.3%) and Gauteng (90.7%) had access to adequate sanitation, while about half those in Limpopo (57.1%) and 67.4% in Mpumalanga had adequate access.
“Nationally, the percentage of households without sanitation, or who used bucket toilets decreased from 12.3% to 4.2% between 2002 and 2016,” revealed the report.
Public health care, education
Improvements were also noted in access to public health care, with 71.4% households reporting to have used public clinics and hospitals as their first point of access when a family members fell ill or became injured.
With regards to education, government’s comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) programmes are paying dividends, with about 41.3% of the 0 – 4-year-olds attending such programmes at day care centres, crèches, playgroups, nursery schools and in pre-primary schools.
Approximately 86.9% of South African individuals above the age of five years, who attended educational institutions, were in school, while a further 4.8% attended tertiary institutions. By comparison, only 2.3% of individuals attended Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
Lehohla said about 18.7% learners left school prematurely, attributing this to ‘a lack of money’ as the reason for not studying, while 18.9% reportedly fell out due to poor academic performance.
“About 9.9% of individuals left their studies as a result of family commitments like minding children and pregnancy,” said Lehohla, noting that the ‘no fee’ school system and other funding initiatives on the other hand were also are beginning to show improved results.
The percentage of learners, who reported that they were exempted from paying tuition fees, increased from 0.4% in 2002 to 65.3% in 2016.
Provincially, 86.2% of learners in Limpopo and 73.2% of learners in Eastern Cape attended no-fee schools, compared to 39.3% of learners in Western Cape and 37.4% of learners in Gauteng.
Approximately 766 812 students were enrolled at higher educational institutions during 2016, with 66.4% of these being black Africans.
However, proportionally black Africans were still underrepresented, with only 3.3% of black Africans aged 18 to 29 years studying, compared to 18.8% of Indian/Asian individuals and 17.5% of the white population in this age group. Only 3.5% of the coloured population was studying during 2016.
While functional illiteracy declined from 27.3% to 14.6% between 2002 and 2016, the adult literacy rate, however, lagged behind the national average of 94.4% in provinces such as Northern Cape with 89.8%, North West with 90.1% and Limpopo with 90.7%.
The results show that 4.7% of South Africans aged five years and older were classified as disabled in 2016.
According to Lehohla, women accounted for 5.2% of people with disabilities, while men accounted for 4.1%. The Northern Cape had the highest prevalence of disability at 7.1%, North West 6.8% and the Free State 6.1%.