Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Development and Growth in South Africa

The economy and investment is growing. Inequality is rising. Poverty is deepening, though increasing social grants help a bit. This is a recent assessment from the Western Cape's draft Growth and Development Strategy:

The economy is growing at rates approaching 6% per year and fixed investment is increasing rapidly at an average of almost 7% per year. Employment is rising at rates lower then economic growth and unemployment is rising at rates higher then economic growth. There is also evidence that growth places increasing pressure on the natural and environmental resources available to the Western Cape, aggravated by global climatic change. The number of poor in the Province is growing faster than both the economy and the population. The underlying multidimensional character of poverty is evident in the high burden of disease, lack of formal shelter and a steadily increasing housing backlog, in-migration mostly from neighbouring poor regions, vulnerability to natural disasters such as flooding, drought and fires and rising levels of inequality, reinforced by a disconnectedness This (due to poor spatial integration of settlements, lack of well functioning transport systems, lack of communication and poor social networks) to the opportunities presented by an otherwise thriving economy. The pervasive exclusion of communities and groups, especially younger people in the Province, is leading to a loss of human dignity and eventually self-esteem, as evident by outbursts of violence, abuse, rape, as well as gangsterism and road traffic accidents on the one hand and lack of inner strength, purpose and hope, as evident by a significant rise in drug-related crimes, on the other. In such an environment where self-worth and the value of others is not a given, the trust and reciprocity that is needed for inclusion in a functioning economy is a vital, but missing ingredient.

This is a complex problem that needs a systems-wide approach. Piecemeal solutions may only aggravate the problem. What approaches and tools are available? and how can these be applied to such complex systems?

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