The freedom from poverty for all in South Africa is one that we must still overcome, says the writer. File photo: Antoine de Ras

Pretoria -

Four million fewer people are living in poverty in South Africa, statistician general Pali Lehohla said on Thursday.

“Poverty has indeed been declining in South Africa,” Lehohla said.

“...Indeed, in many ways it (poverty) is being tackled.”

He was briefing reporters in Pretoria on Statistics SA's report on poverty trends in South Africa.

Lehohla said three different types of poverty lines were used in the Stats SA report.

These were the food poverty line (R321 a month to buy food), lower-bound poverty line (R433 a month to buy food and clothing), and the upper-bound poverty line (R620 a month to buy food, clothes and provide shelter).

Using the food poverty line, in 2006 approximately 27 out of every 100 people lived below that line. In 2009 during the recession it rose to 32, and in 2011 the figure dropped to 20 out of 100.

This translated into 12.6 million, 15.8 million, and 10.2 million people respectively.

The lower-bound poverty line in 2006 was 42 out of 100, 44 in 2009, and 32 in 2011.

This equalled 20 million, 21.8 million, and 16.3 million people respectively.

For the upper-bound line, from which the four million poverty reduction figure was drawn, in 2006 the figure was 57 out of 100, dropping to 46 out of 100.

This equalled around 23 million people in 2011 against 27 million in 2006.

Social grants had an important impact on reducing poverty, with 2.6 million grants issued in 1993 and 16.6 million in 2011.

Lehohla said the issuing of social grants, between 2006 and 2011, rose by 46 percent, especially the child support grant.

In 2002, 13.4 million people fell within the self-declared hunger bracket, while in 2011 6.6 million people were in the same bracket.

Regarding the provinces, 23 percent of households in KwaZulu-Natal, 18 percent in the Eastern Cape, and 16 percent in Limpopo lived in poverty.

At a municipal level, the top 10 municipalities with the highest levels of poverty were in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Msinga municipality in KwaZulu-Natal showed the highest level of poverty at 37 percent.

Nkandla municipality, where President Jacob Zuma's homestead is located, had the fifth-highest level of poverty in KwaZulu-Natal. - Sapa