According to the SA Child Gauge, the only publication to provide annual insights into the situation of the countrys children, almost two-thirds of children live below the poverty line. File picture: Babu/Reuters

Cape Town - Children are among the hardest hit by poverty, and poor households bear the main responsibility for looking after the largest number of children, the latest South African Child Gauge has shown.

Not only are the country's children facing gross inequality, but unemployment and poverty means many households cannot financially support their young.

According to the SA Child Gauge, the only publication to provide annual insights into the situation of the country’s children, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of children live below the poverty line of R965 per month.

Inequalities in access to quality services and opportunities still run along racial and spatial lines with 41 percent of all black African children and 33 percent of this group across all ages living in the poorest 20 percent of households in the country.

The 11th edition of the Gauge, which was launched in Pretoria on Tuesday, is produced by the Children’s Institute in partnership with the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) South Africa and other partners including the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, University of the Witwatersrand and the FNB Fund, among others.

The 2016 issue looks at how the government’s child support grant (CSG) has benefited children.

It also reflects on challenges that remain as the grant matures into what is now a well-established element of social protection policy. While the authors of the latest publication have lauded the child support grant of R360 for its role in reducing hunger in households, improved nutrition, health and schooling among children, they also highlighted challenges such as poor access.

Despite many children being eligible for the grant, researchers pointed out around 1.8 million are still not accessing the grant, many of whom are among the neediest young children.

Aislinn Delany, lead editor of the Child Gauge 2016 said key barriers included difficulty in accessing the necessary documents for the grant application.

“There is also confusion around who qualifies for the grant, and the application process can be time-consuming and costly for low-income applicants.

“While the introduction of electronic payments has improved efficiencies, it comes with its own concerns, including exploitative sales and loans and unauthorised deductions,” Delany said.

Delany said at R360 per month, or R12 a day, the grant was in effect a very small amount and was not enough to cover a child’s most basic daily food needs.

It also fell below all three of the national poverty lines proposed by Statistics SA, including the food poverty line where the measure of extreme poverty is R415 a month.

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