Declines in poverty worldwide have slowed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the first rise in extreme poverty in a generation. In sub-Saharan Africa, the dire economic situation could push up to 40 million people into extreme poverty.
Those who live in extreme poverty not only face immense deprivation but also are the most vulnerable to many other stressors, including climate change, violent conflict and natural disasters.
UCT has a long tradition of basic and applied inter-disciplinary research that addresses and responds to the specific challenges posed by poverty and inequality in South Africa.
Founded in 1975, the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), in the School of Economics, has produced a major body of research contributing to policy to address poverty in South Africa. For example, SALDRU has been responsible for implementing the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS), the first and ongoing national household panel study in South Africa. NIDS is part of an intensive effort on the part of the government to track and understand the shifting face of poverty.
The interdisciplinary Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) is dedicated to conducting and building capacity for systematic, policy-relevant social science research in South Africa, the region and across Africa. UCT researchers have co-authored a book that tracks the development of children growing up in poverty in the first decades of the 21st century in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam, with the aim of informing intervention strategies.
Poverty affects children disproportionately. The Children’s Institute at UCT has an extended track record of monitoring the socioeconomic situation of children and making evidence-based arguments for the improvement and expansion of policies, services and social assistance programmes.
Those people living in poverty and adversity are at increased risk of a range of mental health conditions, and people who live with mental health problems are at greater risk of drifting into or remaining in poverty. The Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health at UCT engages with this nexus.