The Southern African region is characterised by unacceptable high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. In many cases, poverty and inequality are on the increase, particularly in countries in crisis such as Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Neither agricultural economies such as Malawi nor resource-rich countries such as Namibia, South Africa and Angola have been able to significantly reduce wealth gaps and the rates of poverty and unemployment.
In South Africa with its high levels of racial inequality, inequality in income distribution is especially large and persistent. For an upper-middle income country (in terms of GDP per capita and economic structure), South African social indicators (e.g. life expectancy, infant mortality or quality of education) are closer to those of lower-middle income or even low income countries. This reflects the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities. A small group of highincome earners sharply increases average incomes, but has little impact on average social indicators, which are low because of this very same inequality. Even in 1995, before the full advent of AIDS, South African life expectancy at birth was only 63 – ten years less than that of Panama, a country of comparable income, and four years less than that of the Philippines, a country with one-third of South Africa‟s per capita income (World Bank 1997).
South Africa’s national policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality, which was drafted by the national Office on the Status of Women, was the focus of two hearings held in Durban last month. These gave participants from government and civil society the opportunity to discuss priority issues for national and provincial action plans, recommend structures and institutions for implementation and debate areas for cooperation between civil society and the Office on the Status of Women.
To give effect to section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996,in so far as the empowerment of women and gender equality is concerned; to establish a legislative framework for the empowerment of women; to align all aspects of laws and implementation of laws relating to women empowerment, and the appointment and representation of women in decision making positions and structures; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
Prior to the secession of the Southern Sudan from the Sudan in July 2011, there were many challenges that trap the population of many areas of the country by poverty. The education, health, water and sanitation services are extremely poor as a result of the long civil conflict (1955–1972 and 1982–2005) and unfavorable climatic changes and natural disasters. Consequently, adult illiteracy rate reached 75% of total population with the primary school enrollment being only 20% (GOS-UNCT, 2004). Only 27% of the population had access to safe drinking water and only 16% had access to sanitation facilities (Guvele et al., 2009).
Following the referendum of January 2011, South Sudan became an independent country on July 9, 2011. The new government undoubtedly faces daunting challenges ahead in a context of complex social and economic problems at the back of weak institutions and lingering social tensions. Sudan is one of the few African countries where household surveys at a national level were not conducted for over three decades, at least since 1978. As a result, very little was known on the state of poverty,income distribution and labor markets.
Poverty is a broad concept with many faces that mirror dimensions of human welfare. It goes beyond inadequate food or income to access of individuals to basic nutrition, health, education and skills, improved livelihood, good housing conditions, clean water,social participation and political or religious freedom that are such welfare dimensions. Pronounced shortage or deprivation in each of these has a poverty face and their sum symbolizes the broad concept of human development to which a focus on deprivation is fundamental. Yet, the most commonly addressed poverty dimensions are income (or food) poverty and human poverty that are expressed via measured indicators.
This is Part 1 of a study, presented in three reports that detail the results of a poverty assessment and mapping project in North and Southern Sudan. The study’s objective was to produce a rural poverty analysis and poverty maps for North and Southern Sudan, and based on these findings, recommend agricultural interventions that can help reduce poverty. These findings provided an input to the IFAD Sudan Country Program 2007–2012, that takes into consideration the new constitutional changes in Sudan resulting from the peace agreements with South/East/West Sudan and to support peace, security and stability in Sudan.
Poverty remains an enormous challenge confronting policymakers in Africa. This chapter provides an overview of the current situation in Africa and the response to it as narratives have emerged in the development discourse. Factors leading to the rapid growth of the urban population in Africa and the way it impacts on cities’ abilities to meet the growing demand for employment, housing and urban services are highlighted. The second part of this chapter gives an introduction to the study area, namely Sudan, and presents some characteristics of the country. The last part outlines the objectives and methodologies of the study.
The relationship between inequality or income distribution and economic development has been an area ongoing study for over five decades. The distribution of income in a country is traditionally assumed to shift from relative equality to inequality and back to greater equality as the country develops. Intuitively, inequality will rise as some people move away from prevailing traditional activities, which yield a low marginal product, into more productive venture. At some point, the marginal product of all economic activities converges and income differences narrow. Based on this reasoning, the so-called Kuznets hypothesis (Kuznets, 1955) postulates a nonlinear relationship between a measure of income distribution and the level of economic development.