Households Affordability Index study shows that more than half of South Africans live below the poverty line and survive on less than R41 a day. 30.4 million people who make up 56 percent of the nation’s population can barely afford food.
The study by Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMBEJD) showed that out of that number, 13.8 million of them are not able to spend more than R19 on food a day.
Black South Africans are the most affected as 29.9 million of them live under the poverty line of R1,230 a month. The index is shocking given that South Africa has the most developed economy in Africa and is a member of BRICS. This may also be a pointer to the frequent waves of xenophobic violence witnessed in the country in recent years.
Part of the study done around Pietermaritzburg showed that food is expensive and a family of four needed to spend R1,290 a month for a meal leaving very little to be spent elsewhere. Such a family would need R2,327 for a full diet meal which it can barely afford.
South Africa is one of the most expensive countries to live in on the continent. 12.3 million children receive child support grants from the government according to the PMBEJD. They receive R420 which cannot cover a nutritionally complete diet hence their development is most likely to be affected.
A child aged between 3 – 9 requires at least R526 a month while a teenager of 14 – 18 years requires at least R672 for food alone, according to the research group.
“Because of our largely unchanged apartheid geography, the costs of transport to get to work and back home eats away at the value of the low wage, leaving very little money to secure food and other critical expenses,” the group said.
Other expenses for households include electricity whose cost went up by 13.07 percent in July 2019 and water whose cost rose by 9.6 percent in the same period. The cost of living in South Africa could be spiraling out of control for low income families.