Drought, history and some poor local governance combine to weigh down the Eastern Cape in Statistics South Africa’s latest report.
Among its sobering statistics, the Eastern Cape has the highest number of residents leaving the province to find work, the lowest access to clean drinking water and the highest number of teen girls falling pregnant.
The figures are carried in StatsSA’s Community Survey 2016 report which shows that the South African population has increased from 40.6 million in 1996 to 55.6 million this year.
Since 2011, the Eastern Cape population has risen from 6 562 053 to 6 996 976. During the same period 1 592 798 residents left for other destinations within South Africa, statisticians general Dr Pali Lehohla told The Herald.
“We know that most of these people were leaving to find work and that most of them left for the Western Cape.”
The figures reflect an age-old “corrosion” in the Eastern Cape and to understand the province’s figures in general “you have to understand the historical context”, he said.
Leaders emerged from the Eastern Cape via Fort Hare under apartheid but they were arrested, went into exile or left to work in bigger centres.
“It’s difficult to change the trajectory and it’s still the same situation now. The youth go to school, the boys get circumcised, stay around a bit and then leave to find work, returning only to die. The corrosion continues.”
The Eastern Cape has the highest number of households with no access to piped water (442 167), with KwaZulu-Natal the next worst.
The Western Cape has the lowest number in this section. The Eastern Cape also fares the worst in the section focusing on food security and “households who skipped a meal in the past 12 months” with 17.6%.
The Eastern Cape’s number of agri-households or households relying on farming has dropped sharply since 2011 from 35.4% to 27.9%, a significant decline in a rural province, Lehohla said.
“In all these sections, the drought has played a part and we have also seen some municipalities going backwards with service delivery in the province.”