Cape Town - More South Africans now have access to piped water, sanitation and electricity than at any time in the past, but an alarming one in 50 households still relies on drinking water from rivers, streams and dams.
This was announced by Stats SA on Thursday, releasing its general household survey. The report shows improvements in key service delivery sectors. But, conversely, Stats SA also reports a decline in “the perceived quality of these services”.
“Residents in the Free State, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape have consistently remained least satisfied with the quality of water they receive,” its report read.
The survey has tracked service delivery since 2002 - including housing, access to electricity, and household incomes. The 2012 report was conducted between July and September of last year.
On the power front, the percentage of South African households connected to the mains electricity supply increased from 77.1 percent in 2002 to 85 percent in 2012. The highest percentage of households that were connected to the mains electricity supply was recorded in the Northern Cape (91.9 percent) and Free State (91.3 percent). By contrast, 79 percent of households in KwaZulu-Natal and 80.2 percent in the Eastern Cape had similar connections.
Figures for fresh water showed that households in the Western Cape (98.9 percent) and Gauteng (97.3 percent) enjoyed almost universal access to water. Despite noticeable improvements since 2002, the percentage of households with access to water in the Eastern Cape (79 percent), Limpopo (80.1 percent), KwaZulu-Natal (87.3 percent) and Mpumalanga (87.5 percent) still lagged behind the national average of 90.8 percent.
“While 44.5 percent of households enjoyed access to piped water in the dwellings, and a further 27.7 percent had access to piped water on site, 2.9 percent of households had to use a neighbour’s tap, while a further 15.8 percent used communal taps. It is a cause for concern that 2.3 percent of households still had to resort to sourcing drinking water from rivers, streams and dams,” the report states.
The percentage of households that reported paying for water has been declining steadily over the past decade, dropping from 66.9 percent in 2004 to only 45.3 percent last year.
Households with no access to any toilet facilities or still using bucket toilets declined over the period from 2002 to 2012 across all provinces - with the national average dropping from 12.3 percent in 2002 to 5.3 percent last year.
The highest percentage of households living without toilet facilities was found in the Eastern Cape (13.4 percent), Mpumalanga (6.4 percent) Limpopo (6.3 percent) and Northern Cape (6.1 percent) - with the Western Cape at 3.2 percent and Gauteng the lowest at 1.8%.
In these impoverished communities, the importance of social grants to address income poverty was also starkly presented:
“More than 44 percent of households contain at least one member who received a social grant, and 39.5 percent of households identified social grants as their main source of income,” the researchers reported.
Key findings of general household poll:
* Nationally, 74.1 percent of persons aged 7-24 were attending educational institutions. A lack of money for fees remains the primary reason for a large proportion not studying.
* About 685 729 students were enrolled at higher educational institutions during 2012, and almost two-thirds (62.7 percent) of these were black African. However, proportionally this group is still under-represented. Only 2.8 percent aged 18 to 29 years were studying as opposed to 14.6 percent of Indian/Asian individuals and 17.2 percent of the white population in this age group. Only 3.6 percent of the coloured population was studying during 2012.
* More than nine-tenths (92.9 percent) of South Africans are able to read and write.
* A quarter (23.9 percent) of households indicated that they would go to private doctors. Nearly a quarter (24.5 percent) had at least one member of a medical aid scheme.
* The percentage of individuals that benefited from social grants has increased from 12.7 percent in 2002 to 29.6 percent in 2012. Simultaneously, the percentage of households with at least one grant increased from 29.9 percent to 43.6 percent. Individuals in the Eastern Cape (40.3 percent), Limpopo (37.7 percent) and KwaZulu-Natal (36.1 percent) were most likely to be grant beneficiaries. More than half of households in Limpopo (58.8 percent), the Eastern Cape (58.2 percent), and the Free State (53.1 percent) received at least one grant compared to 27.2 percent in Gauteng and 34.2 percent in the Western Cape.
* The use of wood and paraffin for cooking fell in most provinces between 2002 and 2012.
* Nationally, only 6.3 percent of households did not have access to either landlines or cellular phones in 2012. Almost a third (40.6 percent) had at least one member who used the internet. Households in the Western Cape and Gauteng were most likely to use the internet while households in Limpopo (21.3 percent) were least likely to do so.
* Taxis were the most commonly used form of public/subsidised transport as 40.4 percent of households had at least one member who used a minibus/sedan taxi or bakkie taxi during the week preceding the survey.
* Waste removal problems and littering (39.4 percent) as well as land degradation and soil erosion (31.2 percent) were the two environmental problems that concerned the highest percentage of households.
* Most households in South Africa continued to rely on incomes from salaries. Nationally, salaries (64.9 percent) and grants (39.5 percent) were received by the highest percentages of households. Western Cape (77.3 percent) and Gauteng (75.6 percent) households were most likely to receive salaries while Limpopo (53.7 percent) and the Eastern Cape (55.1 percent) were more likely to receive grants.
* Less than a quarter of South African households (18.1 percent) were involved in crop production. Nationally, only 5.7 percent of households became involved in agriculture in order to generate more income.
Access to food was judged in various gradations:
* The percentage of people who “experienced hunger” decreased from 23.8 percent in 2002 to 10.8 percent in 2007, before rebounding slightly to 13 percent in 2008.
* The percentage dropped to the same level as 2007 (10.8 percent) in 2012.
* The percentage of households that were “vulnerable to hunger” declined from 29.3 percent in 2002 to 12.6 percent in 2012, including a spell during which the percentage increased to 16 percent in 2008 before continuing its decline.
* The percentage of households that “had limited access to food” decreased from 23.9 percent in 2010 to 21.5 percent in 2012.
* Simultaneously, the percentage of persons with more limited access to food declined from 28.6 percent in 2010 to 26.1 percent in 2012.
* Geographically, food access problems were the most serious in North West where 34.6 percent of households had inadequate or severely inadequate access. They were followed by Northern Cape (28.1 percent), Eastern Cape (28 percent), Mpumalanga (25.7 percent), Free State (23.7 percent) and Western Cape (21.3 percent).