A shocking number South African households are living on less than R2,500 a month

Stats SA has published its latest annual General Household Survey, looking at key statistics across South Africa’s eight major metros.

The survey covers face-to-face interviews with 20,908 households (including multiple households), where the results were extrapolated to represent the 7.5 million households (23.6 million people) living in major metros.

StatsSA highlighted the following key metrics: access to basic services like water and electricity, level of education, travel times and other social welfare indicators.

As part of the data set, the survey includes information on poor households, and the high levels of poverty that still persist in the country.

According to Stats SA, of the 7.5 million households in major metros, approximately 28% are classified as poor – where monthly expenditure is less than R2,500 a month.

Of these 2.1 million poor households, almost 700,000 have children aged between 7 and 18.

The situation is most dire in Manguang (MNG) and Buffalo City (BFC) where 40.3% and 39% of households are living under R2,500 a month – followed closely by eThekwini (ETK).

The City of Cape Town (CPT), meanwhile has the lowest rate of poor households (17.7%), ahead of the City of Tshwane (TSH) and the City of Johannesburg (JHB), at 25.9% and 26.8%, respectively.

Access to food

Further, the survey data shows that 1.2 million of these poor households describe their access to food as inadequate – including over 260,000 who describe the situation as severe.

This represents just under 16% of all South African households across the metros, with the City of Cape Town coming worst off in this metric, and the City of Tshwane with the lowest rate.

New research from the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) found that, as of May 2019, a family of four would need to spend R2,524 a month on its ‘thrifty’ basket of basic foods.

This represents, on average, 32.3% of a household’s monthly spend, the group said. This means that a household would need to earn R7,800 a month to just feed the family – or else would have to drastically cut spending on non-food items.

In 2018, the BFAP noted that more than half the country’s population would not be able to afford this.


Read: A shocking number of South Africans can’t afford even a basic food basket right now

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A shocking number South African households are living on less than R2,500 a month