Cape Town - Nearly half of all farmworker households in the Overstrand earn below R3 000 a month, a new provincial government survey has found.
This means that among the poorest households the per capita income is R600 per individual. On farms in the Theewaterskloof district, 69 percent of farmworkers said they earned between R1 500 and R3 000 a month.
These findings are part of an extensive survey the Western Cape government is conducting among farmworker households across the province.
The survey was started in the Overstrand in August 2011 and so far has completed work in the Overstrand and Thee-waterskloof area.
Farmworkers in the Winelands are currently being interviewed.
Researchers have found a recurring finding – very few farmworkers participate in social activities.
Social participation is mostly limited to burial societies and religious organisations or churches.
“This finding could relate to a low self-esteem among these farmworkers,” the survey found.
Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) provincial secretary Mlungiseleli Ndongeni said the survey confirmed the union’s belief that farmworkers had very limited social life.
“The only thing they can look forward to is the one day at the end of the month when people are taken to town for shopping,” he said.
He said there was an urgent need for the government to look at farmworkers’ social conditions.
“It cannot continue. An urgent intervention is needed,” Ndongeni said.
Wouter Kriel, agriculture spokesman for Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, said the survey would be a baseline for the province to deliver better services to workers living on farms.
The Department of Agriculture has allocated over R7 million to complete the survey of all farmworker households by 2017.
Kriel said the province would start to implement recommendations in specific areas as soon as the research data became available.
“In the case of the lack of social activities among workers we will budget to build sport fields or community halls to encourage people to get more involved with clubs,” he said.
These projects would, however, only start in the next financial year set to begin next April.
The research report also found that a third of farmworker households said they needed more frequent health check-ups.
Farmworkers in Theewaterskloof said they had a need for spectacles, hearing aids, walking sticks and better access to chronic medication.
On average, farmworker households in the Overstrand spend up to 20 percent of their income on health services.
Farmworkers also asked for the government to provide a better service for immunisation of their children.
Transportation to schools is one of farmworkers’ biggest concerns.
Farmworkers also want assistance to buy school uniforms.
Kriel said the province would share the findings with its departments and municipalities to improve services to these communities. - Cape Times