'Poverty decade' ends but crisis remains

The Black Sash will mark the end of the UN-declared 'First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty' (1997 - 2006) with a seminar exploring how poverty is measured in South Africa - and the consequences for policy and programmes aimed at alleviating poverty. The issue is at the centre of current political debate in South Africa.


The seminar will take place on Tuesday, 17th October, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Experts in the poverty arena, including leading human rights advocates, researchers and government officials, will be taking part in the discussions. It's the second seminar in the organisation's Poverty Series. The first explored the link between HIV/Aids and the government's poverty alleviation policies.


South Africa has committed itself to halving poverty by 2015, with the social wage being a critical component of its strategy. But Marcella Naidoo, National Director of the Black Sash, points out "there is still no official definition of poverty, 12 years into democracy, so how can we measure our efforts to halve it?" Naidoo says it is also unclear what is meant by the social wage and whether it is an effective poverty alleviation strategy. She says the "seminar will provide critical insight and discussion in an attempt to unpack our thinking about poverty and the strategy of the social wage as a means to move back the frontiers of poverty."


Among the key speakers at the seminar are Prof. Michael Noble and Gemma Wright, Director and Deputy Director of the Centre for the Analysis of South African Social Policy at Oxford University. Also making presentations will be Dr Charles Meth, a Research Fellow with the School of Development Studies at KawZulu-Natal University, and Prof. Sandra Liebenberg, the Harry Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at Stellenbosch University.


In December 1996, the General Assembly declared the theme for the Decade as a whole to be "Eradicating poverty is an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind." The international theme for this year's day (Tuesday, 17 October 2006) is "Working Together out of Poverty".


Issued for and on behalf of The Black Sash