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Thursday, 02 December 2021 18:20

Children most affected by COVID‑19 pandemic - Survey.

Health Reporter.

Children in South Africa were most affected by the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic, the 2020 General Household Survey (GHS) has found.

Released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Thursday, the survey found that COVID-19 had had a distinct impact on the nature of childcare arrangements for children aged 0–4 years in 2020.

The report provides a snapshot of progress achieved in basic government services and also assists to identify service delivery gaps for policy intervention.

The GHS report aims to assess the levels of development in the country as well as the extent of service delivery and the quality of services.

In the report, Stats SA said the percentage of children that attended Grade R, pre-school, nursery school, crèche, and educare centres decreased from 36.8% in 2019 to 24.2% in 2020.

"The percentage of children that remained at home with a parent, guardian, other adults or children increased from 57.8% to 67.2% during the same period," it noted.

During this period, according to COVID-19 regulations, schools and educational facilities were shut, negatively affecting attendance.

The report shows that five-year-olds who did not attend educational institutions increased from 10.9% in 2019 to 37.7% in 2020.

"For six-year-olds, the percentage increased from 3.5% to 11.8%. Although enrolment in education remained relatively high, a comparison with 2019 shows that a slightly higher percentage of children in older age groups were not attending school," the survey found.

Social Relief of Distress grant (SRD)

Stats SA said while COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions severely impacted livelihoods, social grants remained a “vital safety net”, particularly in the poorest provinces.

"The rollout of the temporary SRD in 2020 played a central role in protecting individuals and households against the loss of income during this period.

"Nationally, 5.3% of individuals accessed the COVID-19 SRD grants in 2020. The results show that the percentage of individuals who accessed grants in 2020 increased to 34.9%, while the percentage of households that received at least one grant increased to 52.4%".

Stats SA noted that the percentage of persons that had access to at least one form of social grant decreased from 34.9% to 30.7% if the SRD grants were excluded.

"Grants were the second most important source of income (52.9%) for households after salaries (57.6%), and the main source of income for more than a quarter (28.8%) of households nationally," the agency said.

A larger percentage of households received grants compared to salaries as a source of income in Eastern Cape (63.6% versus 46.2%) and Limpopo (69.3% versus 44.6%).

Access to water

The survey said between 2002 and 2020, the percentage of households with access to an improved source of water increased from 84.4% to 89.1%.

It said the increases were most notable in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

"Despite these notable improvements, access to water declined in six provinces between 2002 and 2020. The declines, however, belie the fact that more households had access to piped water in 2020 than 19 years earlier," it said.

Through the provision and the efforts of government, support agencies and existing stakeholders, the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increased by 21.5 percentage points between 2002 and 2020, growing from 61.7% to 83.2%.

The Eastern Cape was most improved, with the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increasing by 59.3 percentage points to 92.7%, the survey found.

Limpopo showed the second-highest improvement, with access increasing by 31.8 percentage points to 58.7%. The installation of pit toilets with ventilation pipes played an important part in achieving the large improvements.


The survey found that there had been an increase in the percentage of households that used electricity for cooking, rising from 57.5% in 2002 to 78.5% in 2020.

This was accompanied by a decrease in the use of wood (20.0% to 8.1%) and paraffin (16.1% to 3.4%) over the same period.

The common use of wood and coals for cooking purposes in rural provinces such as Limpopo (37.1%) and Mpumalanga (18.9%) was, however, an indication that available resources are still very accessible and, most likely, less expensive than using electricity, the survey found.