Huge disparities in living conditions of black and white kids

2013-11-18 14:37

Huge disparities in the living conditions of black and white infants have been highlighted in a report released by Stats SA.

The document, titled South Africa’s Young Children: Their Parents and Home Environment 2012, was tabled in Pretoria by statistician-general Pali Lehohla.

It deals with children under the age of five. There are 5.3 million in South Africa, representing about 10% of the population. Of this total, 85% are described as “black African”.

Released almost 20 years after South Africa’s first fully democratic elections, it warns of the “continuous racial differences” in the country among the very young and the consequences this holds for the future.

“The results highlighted that children from the black African and the coloured population groups were perpetually disadvantaged when compared with those from the Indian/Asian and the white population,” says the report.

It offers, as examples, access by various households with young children to fresh water and sanitation.

“For example, the majority of households with young children from the white (93.7%) and Indian/Asian (97%) population groups had piped water inside the house/dwelling, whereas 77.9% and only 27.1% of children from the coloured and black populations groups, respectively, had access to the same source.”

On sanitation, the report finds that only 40.2% of black infants lived in a home with a flush toilet, a convenience enjoyed by almost all their white and Indian counterparts, and almost 90% of young coloured children.

On access to healthcare for under five-year-olds, the report shows only 11.7% of white infants lived in households that used public hospitals or clinics.

“The majority of young children from the black African (82.8%) and coloured (66%) population groups lived in households that used public hospitals or clinics, whereas the majority of those from the Indian/Asian and white population groups mainly used private doctors (55.4% and 65.2%, respectively).”

The report’s authors call for more targeted policies to correct the country’s racial disparities.

“These conditions illustrate that the legacy of apartheid is still entrenched in the South African society, and thus policies targeted at correcting racial disparities remain a key priority for realising the rights of children.”

The document also examines the mothers and fathers of South Africa’s young children, including their marital status by population group.

It finds that while the majority of Indian and white mothers are legally married (85% and 82.7%, respectively), less than half of coloured mothers (44.6%) and about a quarter of black mothers (24.9%) are legally married.

Lehohla also tabled Stats SA’s 2012 Live Births Report today.

He said this found that fewer births were registered last year compared with the year before (2011), implying a 2.8% decline in the country’s birth rate.

Late registrations of births had also declined over the period.

Of the about 1.1 million birth registrations in 2012, a total of 241 677 were late registrations, done more than 30 days after the child’s birth.

According to the report, of the country’s 5.3 million under five-year-olds, 1.1 million are one or younger; 2.1 million are aged one or two; and a further 2.1 million are three or four.

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