A Look At South African Poverty!

South Africa can boast of a mixture of several races and cultures due to its historical background. Several different population groups with different languages, cultural backgrounds and origins all reside in South Africa. If one were to measure human development by established standards such as life expectancy, infant mortality and adult illiteracy, South Africa would compare unfavorably with many other middle-income countries of the world. These indicators also vary widely by race group, gender and geographical location within the country.

Poverty can perhaps be defined as the inability to attain a minimal standard of living, measured against basic consumption needs or the income which is required to satisfy them. It is conventional to use a poverty line in order to reflect the monetary value of consumption which separates the poor from the non-poor. In the case of South Africa this can be defined by considering the poorest 40% of households (about 19 million people or just fewer than 50% of the population) as poor.

The majority of these poor people reside in rural areas. In fact although 50% of the population of South Africa is rural, the rural areas contain 72% of those members of the total population who are poor. The poverty rate, which is the proportion of people in a particular group or area falling below the poverty line, which actually measures how widespread poverty is for rural areas is, 71%. The poverty gap was about R28 billion in 1995, and 76% of this was accounted for by the rural areas.

When considering South Africa’s poverty it is necessary that prevailing accounting systems are investigated. In fact in many instances the national income of developing countries are not properly evaluated due to the fact that economic activity in these places takes place outside the recorded sector. Commonly dubbed as the informal sector, these activities are responsible for most economic activity in South Africa. Of course, it does not appear in the national income sheet because such transactions are unrecorded!

When considering South Africa’s poverty relative to the rest of the continent or perhaps even the western nations, it is easy to devalue the culture of African people. Many times when examining South Africa’s poverty people get caught up in the desolation of the nationals. It is important to recognize the output of its people in order to attempt to alleviate poverty for this nation.

Maternal Health in Africa

Maternal health is a huge problem in Africa, with 50 percent of maternal deaths happening on the continent. African woman are a staggering 100 times more likely to die during childbirth than elsewhere, with around one and a half thousand of such cases every day.

One of the main causes for these tragic statistics is the lack of adequate facilities. Hospitals can be few and far between in some areas, and the hospitals there are often do not have enough trained midwives, meaning the care is not of the same standard expected elsewhere in the world. This is compounded by some of the best doctors moving to other countries where salaries are better. There is also a lack of up-to-date equipment and drugs. Many pregnant women are forced to walk many miles to a hospital, which contributes towards only 20 per cent of births taking place in hospitals.

Around 50 percent of births happen at home, and unlike elsewhere these usually do not include the help of fully qualified midwives. As well as those outlined above, one reason for this is the cost. A hospital birth usually costs around $6, which goes up to $15 if a cesarean is required. Traditional birth attendants often help with home birth but they are not qualified. They do though only cost around $2. Many more maternal health problems arise at home births in comparison with those at hospitals. Local clinics account for 30 per cent of births in Africa. The mortality rate here is also much higher than hospitals, partly because they are insufficiently equipped to deal with complications such as cesareans.

There are significantly more births in Africa than on any other continent. With women typically having more children, it multiplies the risk of maternal health problems. Part of the reason for more births is the child mortality rate, due to epidemics such as aids, malaria and starvation, and the lack of contraception. Because so many children die, people tend to have more children to increase the chances of some reaching adulthood.

Aids is another massive problem. The lack of availability of education about contraception is one of the reasons for this. Even where there is availability it is not affordable for all. If a mother has Aids or HIV during pregnancy this will get passed onto her children. Many Mothers die from Aids leaving their children Motherless, and if their Fathers have also succumbed to the decease, as often happens, then Brothers and Sisters can be left to look after themselves. This causes all sorts of social issues, and further increases the changes of starvation.

Lack of education around the whole subject of family planning means there are more pregnancies not just for adults, but also for young girls. This results in many becoming pregnant young before their bodies are able to fully cope with giving birth, meaning yet more maternal health issues.

5 Ways on How to Help Poverty Victims in Africa

Most people think they are not in a position to help poverty victims. I strongly believe that any one can lend a helping hand and it does not always have to be through offering some money. Let me share briefly about how to help poverty victims in Africa.


Food is one of the basic necessities for any human being. Food has become scarce in the continent because of the decline in food production brought about by numerous factors. Droughts, famine, lack of resource, deaths are one of the factors that have made food scarce. More and more the African depends on hand outs to feed its population and people are dying of hunger. Help in the form of food can make a huge difference.

Health care

Health care is another way to help poverty victims in Africa. Almost every homestead has been affected by the limitation or shortage of adequate access to health care in the continent (UN, worldhealth.org). The reality is, Africans are challenged when it comes to health, besides their beliefs in their own traditional medicines. Some deaths are caused by the lack of health care as some of the diseases like AIDS are manageable but people die earlier than they should.


There is a growing population of the homeless in the continent who can no longer be ignored. Almost every city has people who stay there, sleep in pipes etc. These people have been displaced by different reasons but the common denominator is that all of them are homeless.


I strongly believe that one of the ways to fight poverty and to cut the chain of poverty is through education. If a member of poverty stricken family is given access to education it is believed he/she would generate income and take care of his/her siblings as dependants their lives would not be the same. Different reasons deprive African children of education and which they much need to change their lives.

Self -sustaining projects

This my last point about how to help poverty victims in Africa.

It may be hard to always be donating to people but if they also try to move from their poverty situations it becomes a lesser burden. In some parts of the continent the people only need mealie-meal but they are able to make a living by growing vegetables to feed themselves and sell the surplus. It is encouraging to see the people trying to help themselves than solely relying on hand outs. Helping Africans to start their self-sustaining projects especially in food production is one way one would help to fight poverty in Africa and Africans can also help themselves. They may be poor and hungry but they had workers.

Doctor and Nurses Exodus Leaves Africa Health Care in Crisis

In Nairobi, Kenya, a very small, very basic house costs 3,500 shillings a month (£25) – almost three-quarters of a nurses salary and beyond the means of nurses with families to feed. But many complain not about the poor standard of housing, but about the fact that around a quarter of qualified Kenyan nurses have no permanent nursing jobs in a country with a health system in crisis.
Those that have found work are often overworked and staff are leaving in droves, tempted by better conditions abroad, and they are not being replaced. There is a large reservoir of unemployed nurses throughout most African countries but many governments claims that are forced to introduce recruitment freezes due to the conditions of the IMF/World Bank aid packages designed to force African countries to slim their bloated civil services.

Many health professionals have scrimped to find the money to qualify but then struggle to find work once qualifying. Now, like thousands of others, they are saving to leave for the UK and USA. The African government often promises that they will increase spending on healthcare but many never do.
The migration of doctors and nurses from Africa to rich countries has raised fears of an African medical brain drain as disgruntled doctors and nurses scatter all over the world in search of better-paid and secure jobs. According to health ministry statistics in Zimbabwe, fewer than one in four posts for doctors is filled. Four out of five of the district hospitals that serve rural areas have no doctors. But empirical research on the issue has been hampered by lack of data. How many doctors and nurses have left Africa? Which countries did they leave? Where have they settled?

Not only are African governments, the IMF and World Bank making it difficult for them to find jobs but recently new rules designed to safeguard jobs for British trainee nurses have been introduced which could mean that thousands of foreign nurses already employed in the UK are forced out of work.
Recent studies in the UK say that as many as 80 per cent of nursing graduates are unable to find work in the UK, the Government has removed nursing from its list of professions that bypass immigration rules in August 2006.

This means that overseas nurses will be given a job only if no suitable applicants come forward from Britain or Europe. But the change also applies to existing nurses from overseas once they reach the end of their contracts.

Overseas nurses have become the backbone of the health services in recent years, with 45 per cent of new nurses registered in Britain coming from abroad.

Main Reasons For Much Of The Poverty In Africa

Africa, also referred to as the black continent was once filled with vegetation and all kinds of wild animals. This continent is the cradles of the earth. There are various reasons why poverty has continued to strike this continent for centuries. While War is a major problem in the many African countries Bad leadership and corruption of the African leaders is also to blame. There is always war in countries such as Sudan, Somali, Ghana, Kenya and many other countries. As a result, the strong people including the young boys have been forced to go and fight for their rights. The security is wanting and thousands of people, including young children die each day due to malnutrition and preventable diseases. The leaders on the other hand are greedy and hardly care for the poor mothers, children and grandparents.

Disease is another major problem facing many African countries. HIV/AIDS alone has killed thousands of parents and young children. Young children have been left orphans with no one to look after them. The old are too weak to work in the farms and look after the orphans. They have no future since each day, they leave not sure where to get their next meal. Many homes are left empty with no one to leave and cultivate the farms. Most African places have malaria and the villagers can not afford mosquito nets and drugs to fight these deadly disease. Good drinking water is a problem in many places such as Mali, Niger and Sudan. A large population in the rural area are low-income earners and can not afford quality drinking water. Both people and domestic animals drink in the same rivers and water holes. As a result of these, water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, guinea worm disease, cholera, typhoid fever, river blindness and pneumonia are prevalent.

Famine and drought have affected many parts in Africa. Deforestation has greatly affected water catchment areas and Mother Nature. Over the past years, people have destroyed forests in search of timber, firewood, charcoal and agriculture. The water catchments areas have been destroyed, causing big rivers and lakes to dry up. The rain pattern has also been affected causing prolonged drought. With no rain, there are no enough crops grown to feed the people of Africa. Animals and people continue to die as a result of hunger and insufficient water.

About 50 percent of African population live in the slums where there is bad sanitation and poor living conditions. Kibera slum in Kenya is the largest in Africa where life is a living hell for the residents. Houses are built of mud and there are a few or no toilets. There are poor services, sewage and dumping causing disease hazards.

Medical Aid Is Not Just Medical Insurance

Private health care in developed and developing nations is largely funded by medical insurance. If it was not for the protection offered to medical insurance members, most would not be able to afford the otherwise costly service in the private health care sector. However, private medical insurance in many developed nations has often proved to be the source of much frustration for consumers. After all, these insurance companies are as profit-driven, avoid risks and look to cut costs in much the same way as any other private enterprise.

One would never think so but South Africa is among the leaders in funding of private health care services. This is largely due to the existence of private medical aids. There are more to these financial products than it being a modified medical insurance plan. Medical aids are privately run non-profit organizations. It is superior to medical insurance in several ways and has greatly contributed to the development of one of the best private health care systems in the world. So much so that private hospital groups in South Africa are now extending their managed health care services to the Middle East and North America.

Medical aid is not just another form of health insurance. Firstly, every person pays the same monthly premium for specific plans irrespective of their health status at the time of joining the scheme. South Africa is known for its massive HIV/AIDS problem. However, with medical aid offerings, even HIV-positive and AIDS patients can join a plan for the same rate as non-positive members. All patients with pre-existing health problems are simply subjected to a waiting period before the scheme will begin covering the costs of treating and managing these conditions. The only time there may be a slight penalty of sorts is if a person joins after the age of 35 years.

Apart from not paying more for a pre-existing ailment, a medical aid in South Africa can also not refuse any person membership based on their health status. Unlike medical insurance plans that sometimes try to short change a member in a bid to keep its profits up, medical aids are not as restrictive. A Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) policy ensures that a person gets access to treatment for a number of chronic illnesses throughout a year irrespective of whether the benefits are exhausted. In addition, medical aids cannot use the contributions of its members in ways to increase its profit. All contributions are pooled together and paid out for the services of ailing members.

As simple as this scheme sounds, they are still financially strong enterprises that are carefully monitored by the South African government and regulatory councils. When one hears of patients being refused life saving drugs, surgery and treatment in developed nations by medical insurance companies, it is baffling how a small developing nation can sustain such an insurance product. South Africa has some 50 million people, with only 20% being able to afford medical aid, yet there are some 100 independent schemes in existence within the country.

3 Main Reasons for Poverty in Africa

The causes of poverty in Africa are deep-rooted, interconnected and paradoxical. Africa, the cradle of humanity, encompasses some of the most resource-rich areas of the planet. Africans would, in fact, be capable of sustaining their economies and even giving aid to other parts of the world. Something, therefore, must have gone terribly wrong for it to be the poorest of all the continents.

The first reason for Africa’s poverty lies in its history and the mindset which this has created both inside and outside its borders. For 3 centuries, the continent was emptied of millions of its strongest people, captured to work as slaves overseas in order to develop other economies. This had the arguable effect of delaying the establishment of economical, political and social structures that might have been comparable with those found elsewhere in the world.

The abolition of slavery opened the door to colonialism, which, while in one sense only a different form of slavery, did bring much-needed benefits such as industrial development, better education and access to medical care. However the colonising Europeans, by means particularly of the bias of the education they provided, groomed Africans to be servants and consumers in a world where white men were the overlords.

At the end of the colonial era, European countries still had need of their old colonies to provide resources for their own continuing development, and neo-colonialism was born. Business contracts were signed in which Europeans blatantly exploited their former colonies while weak or corrupt African leaders failed to negotiate for the benefit of their own people.

The result was that African countries were gripped by impossible debts to foreign regimes, and at the same time ruled by tyrants from among their own people who in many cases were supported by those same foreign regimes. As the rulers took control of the ‘honey pot’ of the natural resources and forced their countrymen into poverty, the seeds of civil war were sown.

Armed conflict, which disrupts the lives of one fifth of all African people and stems directly from the continent’s history, lies behind the poverty of many regions. War makes ordinary life impossible and land unproductive. In addition, it frightens off investors who might otherwise help to boost economic development and create employment.

The second main reason for poverty in Africa can be summarised as poor use of land. This is due partly to lack of education – a historical legacy – and partly to an inability to change. Large areas of land are given over to subsistence farming which, without the use of modern technology, remains inefficient and does not produce anything to sell at market. Hence there is never the money to pay school fees, however low, or to buy the simplest of farm machinery.

Nomadic grazing of livestock was once a way of life, but now population figures are too high and land ownership is too rigid for it to be possible. Over-grazing and over-farming lead to degradation of the land, giving rise to the need for further land to be cleared through slash-and-burn with little regard to the associated loss of biodiversity. Where strict measures – including against poaching – are not put in place, the wild animals which can be a source of revenue through tourism are depleted.

Degradation of the land results in desertification, partly because of the nature of Africa’s soil which is in general made up of sand and laterite with little clay or humus to hold moisture. This soil erodes easily and its high iron and aluminium content means that it bakes hard in the sun and absorbs no rain. Desertification, coupled with the climate change to which it contributes, can result in drought and famine in a poor society with no adequate safety net, and famine drives the population further into poverty.

The third main cause of poverty is directly attributable to the actions of the developed world and can be specifically laid at the door of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Banks. These bodies claim to reduce poverty and yet have been criticized for years for increasing it. Under the flag of neoliberalism, they impose what they call Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP’s) to ensure debt repayment through economic restructuring.

SAP’s decree that repayment of debt must be made a priority over health, education and general development, so the governments of African nations are forced to reduce their spending on the things which most benefit their own people. Loans are granted, therefore, with certain preconditions, the most insidious one being that exports must be increased to provide the cash for repayments. These exports, which may consist of only a very limited range of products, compete with the exports of other countries in a similar situation, and give rise to a glorified price war. This of course has the effect of devaluing them, which favours the importing West, and means that the developing countries struggle increasingly to keep up with their repayments. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer by this means, which has been suggested is in fact the real, cynical underlying agenda of the IMF.

Africa’s poverty is a disgrace in a world of food surpluses and mass communication. However the reasons behind it are far from simple. A history of injustice set in motion a vicious circle of lack of resources to pay for education, and lack of education to produce and refine resources. This is compounded by devastating health problems, climate difficulties, and predation by more economically advanced nations which, while providing assistance under the impetus of their people’s knee-jerk reactions to specific disasters, have yet to change their underlying attitudes.

Adopting AIDS Orphans in Africa

Adopting an AIDS orphan in Africa is one of the ways to help families and communities cope with the ever-increasing number of children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. Many African states resources have been stretched to the limit in an attempt to address the broader effects of the HIV/AIDS situation, especially to assist the high numbers of African AIDS orphan families. However, the governments efforts coupled with those of civil society have not been enough.

Adopting an AIDS orphan is therefore an important intervention because it means saving a life. It means a decreased strain on government resources as that child’s needs – including food, shelter, education, healthcare and other physical and emotional needs – are met by an able and helping hand. To do this is impossible for many African families and communities because they have all been affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in one way or the other; already they bear some kind of responsibility resulting from this health crisis.

Most of these children are without both parents. In many situations this has left the eldest child in the family, who at times is less than 10 years old, responsible for his/her siblings ranging from any number between 5 to 15 because of the extended family set up and cultures such as polygamy which are still very much practiced in Africa. This responsibility is a burden on that child that they cannot possibly bear for long without succumbing to pressures that may put their own life at risk.

Hence adopting this child, saves his/her life and that of his/her siblings whose plight he/she will speak about. Adoption saves this child from the agony of a life where at a tender they have to deal with the death of both parents whilst at the same time move on and be the head, assume responsibility to care for his/her siblings. The AIDS orphan can grow up like any other child and enjoy being taken care of once adopted. By adopting these children you are giving a better life to one who may be a future leader.

Ending Poverty in Africa – Trade Not Aid Model

A model that I am especially interested in is called RAISE TRADE, and the idea behind this concept is the move away from exporting of raw materials from developing nations and adding value else where. The founder of this model Neil Kelsall is the brains behind a very successful Malagasy chocolate based on the RAISE TRADE model. This model departs from the models that enable cooperatives in Africa to simply own shares of companies as the well as the Fairtrade models, and enables value to be added at source which increases income for the producer as well as the government through tax revenues which is not possible if value is added elsewhere.

How might this work in practice?

Take OTTIMO CAFFE, a specialist coffee roaster from North London looking to source his coffee in a more ethical way, a Uganda based coffee cooperative looking to add value to their coffees before the coffee is exported, so they can earn a higher price for their produce, a government looking to earn more tax revenue from its cash crop , an investor looking to invest in a socially responsible venture, that will bring him good returns at the same time and finally a retailer who must source his products more ethically because his customers demand it!

Everyone of these people have some expertise to bring to the table and the overall goal here is to produce a fully processed coffee that can be exported to the western world at the Cooperative headquarter in Uganda. This is indeed that live case that I am involved in and I have been responsible for bringing all the parties together. I must add that it is early days yet as we work the details out but all the parties are in agreement that this is the way forward in the fight against poverty.

If this model is that fantastic I hear you say, why isn’t it being adopted on a much wider scale? Well that is the question I would like an answer too. But one thing is certain, this is doable and Neil has proved that. Is it therefore a case of commitment on the part of decision makers, Businesses, Retailers or investors? Who is responsible for making this practice wide spread?

The fashion industry has in many ways lead the way in the VALUE ADD movement, they have however let themselves down by unfair practices especially the working conditions of the producers, we have all heard about PRIMARK being associated to the so called sweat shops.

Diseases Most Common to African Americans in Society

Diseases are part of life and people have to contend and deal with them. There are so many interventions and remedies available due to great medical strides technologically. For this reason, many that get access to health care and information all around the world will reduce their chances of going down with disease dramatically. There are certain diseases that have been rife among particular groups of people. An example is black Americans who only form less than 15% of the American population; yet some chronic ailments among them are at a record high. The following is a look at all the most common diseases that have been seen prevalent in the African American community.

In 2006, statistics showed that almost half of all new AIDS cases were reported from the members of this community. Furthermore in the same year, bisexual and gay black men were the leading in numbers of most affected groups of the American society regarding HIV and AIDS. This shows clearly that the sexually transmitted disease is quite common perhaps most common in this particular group of people in America.

Another disease that has been seen pretty common in the African American society is Asthma. According to observations, black people and the Hispanics have been affected more by Asthma in the country. There have been several reasons cited for the widespread of this disease including poverty and genetics. Many poor children from the black and Hispanic communities have plenty of exposure to elements that trigger asthma like smoke from cigarette sparking health problems.

Another common disease among African Americans is Sickle cell anemia. This condition sees cells take an abnormal shape that can somewhat be described as rigid. The cells will look like sickles and for this; they will be compromised in function. It has been found that 1 person in 12 black Americans will have the sickle cell trait. There are many complications that are associated with the disease including renal failure, jaundice, stroke and others.

Diabetes is another common disease among black Americans. Experts have continued to find out whether there is a genetic link that makes this community prone to the illness. Men and women of the African American community who are over 20 years and suffer with diabetes are estimated to be 2.5 million. Many are those that do not know they suffer from the disease. This problem has been seen to be caused by poor feeding habits, lack of physical exercises and so on. The complications brought about by diabetes include blindness, amputation and even kidney failure.

Coronary heart disease is another problem in the community. Factors like intake of high-cholesterol foods and weight problems have contributed to the ailment. However, the above diseases are being managed better in the present day and overall deaths due to the diseases have declined over the past few years.