Practical Experiences in Combining Poverty and Environment at the National Level: The Experience of South Africa
Poverty in South Africa is seen as one of the major challenges facing the young democracy. This is compounded by the high and continually increasing unemployment figures, with the youth and women being the most vulnerable groups. Such problems forced the population to overutilize the country’s natural resources, thereby resulting in unwanted consequences of environmental and ecosystem degradation. To avoid further degradation of the natural resources and alleviate poverty due to unemployment, the Department of Environmental Affairs is participating in the nationwide Expanded Public Works Programme with a particular bias on job creation initiatives that deal with ecosystem restoration. The objectives of the programme are (i) better environmental management practices (ii) job creation, (iii) support for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs), and (iv) skills development. The dual approach to environmental and socioeconomic challenges is seen to be crucial for total ecosystem rehabilitation and sustainability.