The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - Some 2 million destitute children are not receiving child support grants while young mothers are “abusing” the system by using their children’s grants for their own benefit, says Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
The department has been confronted by a “strong wave of complaints” from communities about young women who are abusing the social grant system and that the grants don’t reach their intended recipients, she said.
A new initiative by her department called Project Mikondzo Morsi a Tsonga word meaning “footprints” Morsi will be directed at such poor children by going to all corners of the country to help those living in abject poverty, Dlamini said.
The geographic location and population concentration of South Africans living in poverty was largely in the former homelands and in the farming areas, Dlamini said.
“The most recent research shows that most of the country’s poverty is on the periphery of big cities like Joburg, Durban and Cape Town where we have 2million children who have not applied for a grant,” said Dlamini.
The department has been confronted with “a very strong wave of communities complaining about young women who are abusing the grant”.
“Others want us to help the young women to use their grants appropriately. Some collect grants just to abuse them, the minister said.
“We have uncovered many examples of young women who receive the child support grant on behalf of children when they don’t live with the children nor provide for them,” said Dlamini.
After conducting a study the department found that people started applying for the grant, or caregivers applied for the grant when the children were already aged three.
“If they were after the grant they would have applied for the grant soon after the birth of the baby,” said Dlamini.
Her department has also done an impact study on how the grant assists children and how young people are able to complete school because of its accessibility, she said.
“We are going to be with the kids on a daily basis. The care givers go to families in the morning to help kids to prepare for school and they take the kids to school. Then in the afternoon they take them to areas where they eat and play with other children,” said Dlamini.
The minister said that for the past two years her department had undertaken various outreach programmes.
These included marking October as Social Development Month and taking the Department of Social Development to the people.
“Through our outreach programmes, we have been able to uncover many developmental problems in communities.
“These problems contribute to the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality in our country,” she said.
The department had also identified the growing phenomenon of child and youth headed households and the abuse by relatives and residents of children who lived without parents.
Hunger and malnutrition among children; gender based and violence against children and the disintegration of the family unit had also been uncovered.
The approach to these challenges had to be a holistic one, she said, linking welfare services, social assistance and integrated development.
“The beneficiaries who enter our system through welfare services and move on to receive social assistance, must eventually be in a position to stand on their own feet through our integrated development services.”
According to the minister, the highest concentration of South Africans living in poverty was largely in the former homeland areas.
“The service delivery improvement strategy will therefore be targeted at the 1 300 poorest wards, which are part of the 23 district municipalities identified by the cabinet for prioritisation.”
These municipalities faced many of challenges, including service delivery. Project Mikondzo provided the department with a chance to strengthen and improve the impact of its policies and programmes.
Project Mikondzo would also pay attention to strengthening civil society organisations to help the department deal with the challenges of food security, early childhood development, gender-based violence, and capacity building of NGOs, the minister said.