The response by the South African govern- ment to the interlinked challenge of envir on- ment and poverty
In the wake of the second democratic election in 1999, the fore- most socio-economic challenges in South Africa included high unemployment, poverty alleviation, and a great need for over- all capacity-development as well as improved social services. As a response, the government, under the leadership of former president Tabo Mbeki, launched the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in 2004. Te programme, Mr. Mbeki said, would “ensure that we draw significant numbers of the unem- ployed into productive work and that these workers gain skills while they work, and thus take an important step to get out of the pool of those who are marginalized…”4
Te EPWP is only one among a number of government strategies aimed at addressing unemployment rates and poverty in South Africa. Other examples are the Reconstruction Development Programme (RDP), the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDS) and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA). Furthermore, the anti-poverty frame-
At the very foundation of South Africa’s environmental policies is the South African Constitution (Act 108 of 1996), which is con sidered the supreme law of South Africa and provides an over all framework for the country’s environmental governance. The constitution establishes the right to an environment that is not harmful to human health and wellbeing and further addresses the right to a healthy environment for future generations, and the right to socioeconomic development for current genera tions. These three pillars of sustainability: the environment, so cial wellbeing and economic growth are given equal protection under the constitution.
work of South Africa recognizes the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and aims to approach the issue from nine specific angles, including creation of economic opportunities, investment in hu- man capital, improving healthcare and good governance.
While these strategies mainly target poverty alleviation and job creation, the Johannesburg Plan of Action and the National
South Africa’s anti-poverty framework – Combating poverty from nine angles
1. Creation of economic opportunities – to ensure that the economy generates opportunities for poor households to earn improved incomes through jobs or selfemployment.
2. Investment in human capital – providing health care, educa tion and training needed to engage with the economy and in po litical processes.
3. Income security – providing safety nets for the most vulner able, primarily through social grants. This is to ensure that vulner ability associated with disability, age and illness does not plunge poor households into destitution.
4. Basic services and other non-financial transfers – what has been termed a social wage, consisting of services such as subsidized housing, and expanded access to water, electricity, refuse removal and sanitation; as well as a raft of minimum free basic services for vul nerable sectors of the population. Inability to pay for basic services should not prevent the poor from accessing these services altogether.
5. Improving healthcare – ensuring that poor children grow up healthy, providing quality and efficient preventive and curative care, and ensuring that illness or disability do not plunge poor households into destitution.
6. Access to assets – particularly housing, land and capital, including public infrastructure, both to improve economic and social security, and to provide the basis for economic engage ment in the longer run.
7. Social inclusion and social capital initiatives – combining programmes to ensure a more inclusive and integrated society based on the development of more integrated structures and engagements across class and race, as well as solidarity in com munities and society as a whole. The focus is also on strengthen ing social capital, especially for the poor to expand their networks and ensure they have access to information.
8. Environmental sustainability – requiring strategies and pro grammes that help link increasing economic opportunities for the poor to protecting and rehabilitating ecosystems, while re versing environmental degradation and promoting ecotourism.
9. Good governance – accountability to citizens, direct interven tion in the provision of information, facilitating participatory, pro poor policies and sound macroeconomic management. This is to ensure proper use of public funds, encouraging shared economic growth, promoting effective and efficient delivery of public ser vices and consolidating the rule of law.