NGOs call for more grants to alleviate poverty

THE government should increase the number of people accessing social grants to alleviate poverty.

This according to a recent submissions before the South African Human Rights Commission by a coalition of non-governmental organisations.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, dubbed the National Working Group on Social Security, Isabelle Frye, director of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute, pointed out that: "President Jacob Zuma acknowledged that social grants remain the main effective form of poverty alleviation.

"But he hasn't at least announced the extension of the child support grant to children aged 15 to 18, particularly since he stressed the importance of secondary school enrolment."

In her submission a lecturer at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Marlise Richter, told the commission: "People with HIV are defaulting on their ARVs treatment in order to retain disability grants."

A few studies have shown that once they regain their health and their CD 4 counts improve, social security stops issuing grants to people living with HIV-Aids.

The burden of HIV-Aids has led to an increasing number of orphans and child-headed households in the country.

But surprisingly, statistician-general Pali Lehohla failed to give a national figure of such families.

"We haven't done headship surveys that reveal that kind of phenomenon as a concept," Lehohla said.

Speaking for the Western Cape department of social services, department director Sharon Follentine said: "We reach 800 child-headed households. But, is that the sum total of the child-headed households? I cannot tell you that."

Painting a global picture of the reach of social security in the province, Follentine said: "We have 914314 people receiving grants in Western Cape. Of that number, 530093 are children."

The Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics' Marlise Richter called for a basic income grant and other poverty alleviation programmes that would include sex workers. - Health e news