SA and Nigeria have High Levels of Poverty
South Africa and Nigeria, despite being among countries with the largest economies in Africa, both suffer from high levels of poverty and inequality, says a UKZN researcher.
Dr Andrew Okem, a Senior Researcher with the South African Research Chair Initiative in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), was presenting a paper titled: “A Comparative Analysis of Child Social Protection in Nigeria and South Africa”, at the Conference on Child Poverty and Social Protection in Western and Central Africa at the ECOWAS commission in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Conference was jointly organised by UNICEF WCARO (Western and Central Africa Regional Office), the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Equity for Children.
Okem’s attendance at the conference was made possible through a grant from CROP.
In his presentation, Okem noted that despite being among the largest economies in Africa, Nigeria, and South Africa were both characterised by high levels of poverty and inequality. ‘The burden of poverty in these countries is disproportionately borne by children who have to contend with malnutrition, inadequate health care and other poor socio-economic conditions,’ he said.
Okem’s presentation unpacked the similarities and differences that underpin child social protection in both countries. His presentation noted that although both countries were characterised by high child poverty, South Africa had made more progress in the design and implementation of child-related social protection programmes geared towards alleviating child poverty and improving other socio-economic conditions of children.
The progress in the South African context was linked to several factors, including South Africa’s political history, her rights-based approach to social protection, the adoption of an overarching child-related social protection policy, a higher proportion of GDP spent on social protection (despite having a smaller population size) and a strong administrative framework.
Okem’s presentation resulted in extensive discussion on the rights-based approach to child poverty and social protection.