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Living Conditions Survey to measure poverty in SA

by Luyanda Makapela
on 18 Nov 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Living Conditions Survey (LCS), which is to be conducted in South Africa, will aim to collect data to measure the extent of poverty in South Africa.

The survey, which was launched by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday, will serve as a useful tool in the measurement of poverty reduction and social development programmes.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said the survey was the first of its kind in scope and size within South Africa.

"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 relations to the major shifts in policy and trends in the economy," said Mr Lehohla.

The data, he said, will be collected from 30 000 households through a combination of questionnaires and diaries during the survey period which will run over 12 months. The survey has already started in September and will end in August 2009.

The statistician-general further said the survey will enable government to measure and track progress in addressing monetary poverty with regards attaining Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

"It will also simplify reporting on the first of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals by establishing a reference benchmark for tracking the progress," he said.

Although Stats SA has a range of data sets and time series which are useful in assessing changes in the profile of poverty, none of them measure and assess 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.

Mr Lehohla said while comparison and confrontation of these data sets can provide some indicators of poverty, the uniform approaches to poverty measurement required for sound assessments were not present.

"With this background of the LCS and if successful, it will change the current process of having to use data from a variety of sources in order to arrive at a poverty measure," said Mr Lehohla.

Stats SA Deputy Director General on Population and Social Statistics, Kefiloe Masiteng said the survey will 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 people's own understanding of poverty, anthropometrics statistics where issues of underweight, stunting and wasting are looked at while also looking at democratically derived understanding of the living conditions of South Africans," said Ms Masiteng. - BuaNews

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