An in-depth micro-economic analysis of the poor in the Bophelong community with special reference to the activities that they use to sustain themselves
Sekhampu, Tshediso Joseph
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of the study was to conduct in-depth micro-.economic analysis of poverty in the Bophelong community with special reference to the activities that the poor use to sustain themselves. The research methodology was two fold. Firstly, a literature research, based on articles, books, previous research projects and the Internet, was done in order to develop a better understanding of poverty. Secondly, an empirical research survey using questionnaires was undertaken. There is a magnitude of research on the subject of poverty and disagreements over what poverty is run deep and is closely associated with disagreements over both its causes and solutions to it. Research plays an important role in then understanding of poverty and, possibly, in influencing policies aimed at poverty eradication. The measures used to identify the poor are those commonly employed by many researchers within the major centres of South Africa. Using the HSL as a poverty line, it was found that the population of Bophelong lives far below their poverty line, with 62% of the households receiving incomes less than their respective poverty lines. Of those below their poverty lines, 45.8% have an income of less than 50% of their HSL, which indicates a high degree of poverty. Furthermore, the lowest 6.5% of the poor population have an income less than 10% of their HSL. Poverty within the area has a gender bias, 55.8% of the poor are females. The large number of households below the poverty line provided ample opportunity for further analysis in the form of in-depth interviews with the poor to find out about the activities that they use to sustain themselves. Unemployment is determined as the major factor perpetuating poverty within the area. A comparison of the profiles of the poor households with the total population reveals some of the following aspects: the unemployment of the poor (68.3%) is higher than that of the entire population (55.0%) of Bophelong, skills levels are lower in poor households than in the average household within the area, and the number of households without a father figure in poor households is higher than that of the total population. The poor have relatively lower qualifications than the rest of the Bophelong population. 16.9% of the poor post-school population has a qualification of grade 12 or higher, compared to 22.8% for the population as a whole. There are limited opportunities for the poor to supplement their income. The poor want to better themselves, but due to the goal means gap, the susceptibility to do crime is there. In 8% of all households, respondents spoke of crime as a possible solution to their problems; 40% of which have been in the wrong end of the law because they have committed crime. The vast majority of the poor do not support the perpetration of crime. Finding of crime statistics was difficult, and for that reason, the effect of poverty on crime within the area should be further investigated. No reasonable person would totally deny that poverty may well erode social restraints where they do exist, but it is unwise to make a generalisation that poverty causes crime. Offending is a matter of choice; criminals must accept personal responsibility for their decisions. The study suggests the efficient use of public works programmes as possible solutions to the problem of unemployment. Barriers to formal market entry necessitate small-scale industries that allow easy entry. An inward industrialization process whereby the products consumed in Bophelong can be produced within the area is suggested. At an average income of R600 per month, 1 700 poor unemployed persons could be assisted in Bophelong, decreasing the headcount index from 0.62 to 0.53. If an additional 6 000 jobs for poor unemployed persons could be created as domestic workers, welders, gardeners, textile workers etc. at an average income of R600 per month, the impact on the Bophelong community will be that the headcount index will be reduced from 0.62 to 0.28 and the poverty gap index from 0.48 to 0.26. A people centred approach to poverty alleviation is needed. The energy and assets of the poor are key human and social resources. Poverty affects all of us in one way or another, and for that reason all of society needs to be involved in the struggle for social development.