19 November 2008
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has launched its Living Conditions Survey, a first-of-its-kind study that will help measure poverty reduction and the effectiveness of social development programmes in the country.
For the survey, data will be collected from some 30 000 houses through a combination of questionnaires and diaries during the survey period, which will run over 12 months.
“This survey will cover people from all walks of life in both rural and urban areas, while also allowing for a deeper understanding of the nature of poverty, in relation to the major shifts in policy and trends in the economy,” Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said in Pretoria this week.
He added that the survey – the first of its kind in scope and size within South Africa – started in September and would end in August 2009.
Lehohla said it would help the country achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
“It will also simplify reporting on the first of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by establishing a reference benchmark for tracking progress,” he said.
Indicators on poverty
Although Stats SA has a range of data sets and time series which are useful in assessing changes in the profile of poverty, he said that none of them measured and assessed the progress in poverty reduction.
These include information from the annual General Household Survey, the 1996 and 2001 Population Census, the 2007 Community Survey, and a successive Income Expenditure Survey.
Lehohla said that while the comparison of these data sets could provide some indicators on poverty, the uniform approaches to poverty measurement required for sound assessments were not present.
“The [survey], if successful, will change the current process of having to use data from a variety of sources in order to arrive at a poverty measure,” he said.
Stats SA Deputy Director-General for Population and Social Statistics Kefiloe Masiteng added that the survey would also allow for a deeper understanding of the nature of poverty, while indicating other approaches in dealing with poverty in a wider approach.
“This survey will seek to understand peoples’ own understanding of poverty . while also looking at the living conditions of South Africans.”