More than in five households (22%) in South Africa are indigent, according to Stats SA’s latest non-financial census of municipalities.
South Africa adopted a policy in 2001 to give free or subsidised basic services to poorer households‚ also known as indigent households.
Last year‚ there were 3.51-million indigent households across South Africa’s 257 municipalities.
Households must register with municipalities who vet their applications before granting them indigent status.
“Indigent status isn’t for life‚ however. The economic status of a family might improve over time. To ensure that only the poorest families are catered for‚ municipalities require registered households to reapply for indigent status on a regular basis‚ often once a year‚” Stats SA said on Friday.
Half of these homes were located in six municipalities. eThekwini had about 627‚000 indigent households‚ which is almost one of out every five (18%) in the country.
The Eastern Cape has the most indigent households with about 730‚000‚ which is more than four out of 10 (44%) of all households in the province.
Municipalities determine their own criteria and how much they will subsidise these households. It is often determined by the resources the municipality has.
“In 2017‚ most municipalities (147 out of 257) classified an indigent household as a family earning a combined income of less than R3‚200 per month. Eleven municipalities (nine local municipalities and two district municipalities) adopted a lower income poverty threshold of R1‚600 per household per month‚” Stats SA.
“The general rule is that indigent households are entitled to 6 kl (kilolitre) of free water per household per month and 50 kWh of free electricity per household per month.”
Stats SA: “With over half of South Africa’s population in poverty‚ and with the economy in recession in the first half of 2018‚ the indigent programme continues to be a vital lifeline for the 22% of households that would otherwise not have had access to basic services.”