More access to basic services, says government

Pretoria - Government is making progress in providing basic services and improving the lives of South Africa’s poor.

The proportion of households accessing basic services has grown, with 80% of households having access to water and 77% accessing electricity, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Sunday.

The proportion of households accessing sanitation went up from 62% to 80%, the Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Minister told reporters in Pretoria at the release of the Development Indicators 2014 Report.

Access to basic services has increased despite the fact that the number of households in the country has grown from 11 million to 15.6 million between 2002 and 2014.

“This is by no means a modest, but rather a significant achievement,” he said.

Minister Radebe said however there had been neglect of routine operations and maintenance by some municipalities. “This has meant that even where infrastructure exists this is sometimes non-operational, resulting in disruptions of supply.”

The Minister noted that despite the increase in access, illegal connections to the electricity grid were a concern.

“To prevent collapse of the above-mentioned services, maintenance and proper operations should be given top priority,” he said, adding that National Development Plan envisages rural communities with greater opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country, supported by good-quality education, health care, transport and other basic services.

The 2014 report indicates that government is providing for the country’s poor. It noted that government’s social grants are playing a major role in reducing poverty.

Social assistance programmes have expanded from covering 2.7 million in 1994 to over 12 million in 2014. This means that government was spending close to 3.1 % of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on social grants.

The child support grant had the largest growth of all grants from just under 22 000 in 1998 to more than 11.7 million child beneficiaries in 2014.

Life expectancy increases

Further to this, government’s implementation of comprehensive strategies to combat the burden of diseases inclusive of communicable disease – primarily HIV and AIDS and TB -also means that South Africans are now living for longer.

The report shows that the life expectancy in South Africa has improved steadily over the past decade, with an overall net gain of 8.5 percent.

Life expectancy in South Africa had increased from 52.7 years in 2004 to 61.2 years in 2014.

“Infant mortality improved from 58 to 34 deaths per 1000 live births between 2002 and 2004. Over the same period, under five mortality decreased from 85 to 44 deaths per 1000 live births,” said Minister Radebe.

“South Africa contributed to halting and reversing the spread of HIV – Millennium Development Goal Six. The number of HIV positive persons on anti-retroviral treatment has now reached 3.5 million,” he said.

The successful treatment rate of TB patients also reached 82% in 2012, while the TB cure rate reached the level of 77%.

South Africa’s maternal mortality ratio shows also some progress, albeit not fast enough.

“It is much higher than those of countries of similar socio-economic development,” Minister Radebe said.

He added that government was working in collaboration with development partners, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations to develop an MDG Countdown Project, which aims to increase significantly the number of maternal lives saved by 2015, though the country will not meet the MDG target.

The annual development indicators are numerical indications of changes and long-term trends in South Africa.

The data is sourced from various government administrative data sets, national official statistics, and research by local and international institutions.

The indicators are used as criteria to measure progress and assist government to track, using quantitative measures, the effectiveness of government policies and interventions towards achieving the national goals in areas of development outlines in the National Development Plan. –