How do we ensure that all groups (particularly the most vulnerable in society) are not left on the platform of perpetual poverty and deprivation as the SDG train steams ahead? This is the key question concluding a recent article titled, ‘For the poor, the SDG train has left the station’ by former statistician general and Oxford associate Dr. Pali Lehohla. In this piece Dr. Lehohla elaborates on the quantitative importance of understanding the multi-dimensional nature of poverty, an appreciation of poverty that considers access to health, education, assets and services as key factors in understanding poverty. Dr. Lehohla cautions that if we limit our measurement of poverty on purely income and consumption figures we would be neglecting approximately 1 in 4 people in need of assistance.
Dr. Lehohla’s work leads us to three conclusions around addressing poverty within the South African context;
- Poverty eradication requires a multi-stakeholder approach;
- Poverty eradication requires a strong local orientation; and
- Poverty requires a multi-pronged or integrated approach if it is to be eradicated.
Poverty eradication requires a multi-stakeholder approach because; the multi-dimensional poverty index (MDI) as provided by the UNDP speaks to elements that in South Africa are under the stewardship of a number of government department and spheres. For instance;
- Education and health being under Provincial Government,
- Services (power, water and sanitation) being under local government.
Provision for this type of approach is set out in Section 41 of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996). Intergovernmental planning is essential in eradicating poverty in its multi-dimensional form.
Furthermore, poverty eradication requires a strong local orientation, this is primarily due to the fact that despite poverty by and large looking similar across the globe in its multi-dimensional form, there are social and spatial nuances at local level that cannot be ignored if interventions are to reach the intended scale and attain temporal sustainability. Sustainable solutions to socio-economic challenges require the poor to be both objects and subjects of development. The best chance of assisting the poverty stricken is if interventions from inception till implementation and management are translated down to the local level.
Most notably in the case of South Africa is the multi-pronged approach to inclusive value creation to poverty alleviation. From an economic and legislative perspective we must ensure that programmes and interventions devised from a multi-stakeholder perspective are espoused and communicated in Municipal Integrated Development Plans and more important are B-BBEE ready. The focus of Local Economic Development in Integrated Development Plans must be around integrating rural communities particularly women into the mainstream economy. The 1% Nett Profit After Tax Socio-Economic Development budgets within the B-BBEE legislation must fit into a harmonized strategy geared at poverty alleviation. The merger between SDG and SED spend under the B-BBEE codes is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
In summary, to ensure that no one is left on the platform, can we successfully identify who needs assistance? Can we see them as active contributors in navigating out of poverty? And, can we work together to create inclusive value?