AFRICANGLOBE – Huge disparities in the living conditions of Black and White infants are highlighted in a report released by Statistics SA on Monday.
The document, titled “South Africa’s Young Children: Their Parents and Home Environment 2012”, was tabled in Tshwane 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 percent of the population. Of this total, 85 percent 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 African and the coloured population groups were perpetually disadvantaged when compared to 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 percent) and Indian/Asian (97 percent) population groups had piped water inside the house/dwelling, whereas 77.9 percent and only 27.1 percent of children from the coloured and African populations groups respectively had access to the same source.”
On sanitation, the report finds that only 40.2 percent of African infants lived in a home with a flush toilet, a convenience enjoyed by almost all their White and Indian counterparts, and almost 90 percent of young coloured children.
On access to health care for under five-year-olds, the report shows only 11.7 percent of White infants lived in households that used public hospitals or clinics.
“The majority of young children from the African (82.8 percent) and coloured (66 percent) 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 percent and 65.2 percent respectively).”
The report’s authors call for more targeted policies to correct the country’s racial disparities.
“These conditions illustrate that the legacy of White 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 percent and 82.7 percent respectively), less than half of coloured mothers (44.6 percent) and about a quarter of African mothers (24.9 percent) are legally married.
Lehohla also tabled Stats SA’s “2012 Live Births Report” on Monday.
He said this found that fewer births were registered last year compared to the year before (2011), implying a 2.8 percent decline in the country’s birth rate.
Late registrations of births had also declined over the period.
Of the about 1.1m 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 5.3m under five-year-olds, 1.1m are one or younger; 2.1m are aged one or two; and, a further 2.1m are three or four.
By: Richard Davies