2021 Decent Standard of Living Colloquium Report
November 2018 saw the commencement of a research programme that would reframe the way that South Africans look at life. This research, into what ordinary people think constitutes a decent standard of life in South Africa, was a first of its kind - in a country typically focused on conditions of minimalist, absolute poverty, and destitution.
The relevance and importance of such research are therefore vital in the monitoring of the extension of the progressive realisation of a decent quality of life for all citizens and not merely a select few. The research was conducted via a collaborative partnership between the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), the Southern Africa Social Policy Research Institute (SASPRI), and the Labour Research Service (LRS). It is with the dedicated financial support, provided by the auspices of a funding facility between the Department of Social Development (DSD) and Witwatersrand University, that this research was conducted.
The 2021 Colloquium, which took place after years of research into the intricacies of a decent quality of life, is to present the 2021 updated list of Socially Perceived Necessities (SPNs).2 SPNs are the backbone of the research, illustrating what South Africans consider necessary living conditions and/or possessions needed to live a decent life. This research in particular hoped to identify the change in SPNs brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, testing any shifts in people’s priorities by a disruption to everyday life.
The 2021 study conducted over 900 telephonic interviews in five South African languages, across five provinces - a commendable feat that would not have been possible without the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The diverse range of provinces namely, Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State and languages (namely English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho and Afrikaans) ensured that the data produced would be indicative of the spread of SPNs evident across our vibrant land. As set out below, the usual methodology of focus group studies had to be scrupulously adapted to accommodate the Covid-19 lockdown protocols.
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