CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s children still face apartheid-like inequalities with a black child 18 times more likely to grow up poor than his or her white counterpart, a report said Wednesday.
The 2012 “South African Child Gauge,” which provides an annual snapshot of the state of children in Africa’s biggest economy, warned that the gap between rich and poor is widening despite a dip in overall poverty.
“We have among the highest rates of inequality in the world and it hasn’t gotten better, it’s got slightly worse,” said co-author Katharine Hall, senior researcher at the University of Cape Town-based Children’s Institute.
Sixty percent of children survive on less than 575 rand ($67, 51 euro), or around two thirds of black children 18 years and only two percent of white children.
“We see old patterns of inequality repeating themselves all the time so any way you cut you have repeated racial inequalities, you have spatial inequalities,” Hall told AFP.
The 108-page barometer, which draws on multiple statistical sources and studies, says that income poverty levels have dipped for children overall.
“But stark differences in poverty headcounts, particularly between white and African children, illustrate the lasting effects of apartheid,” it adds.
Most of the poorest children live in rural areas, still locked into apartheid’s geography of living in the poor former quasi-independent homelands that were set up for blacks by the racist white minority government.
“It looks just like a map of the old South Africa,” said Hall of a map showing the geographical dispersal of the most deprived areas.
Poor children are more likely not to finish high school, not to have electricity, not to have a flush or a pit latrine toilet at home, to go hungry and face a higher chance of dying as infants.
“Children who are born to poor parents and grow up in poor households are likely to remain poor, and in this way the inequalities of apartheid are reproduced,” states the report.
With nearly 40 percent of South Africans aged below 18 — 18.5 million children — 11.2 million were receiving government-funded welfare child support grants in July.