A transformative social welfare model for South Africa: Lessons from the United States of America and Brazil
Social protection is vital in ensuring that individuals and households escape poverty and livelihood vulnerability. Social protection presents a valuable means for governments to cater for the well-being and welfare of the chronically poor segments of society, especially their food needs. This article has two aims: firstly, it looks at the benefits and disadvantages of social grants as a safety net for vulnerable individuals and households. Secondly, the article advances the argument that the beneficial value of social grants can at times create a dependency culture on the part of the beneficiaries, especially if grants are long-term. The article therefore argues that conditional cash transfers provide a better form of transformative social protection, as shown in the United States of America and Brazil. These countries have well-developed systems of social protection that allow recipients to be self-sufficient and dissuade beneficiaries from using social benefits as a crutch and from becoming long-term beneficiaries. In South Africa, the right to social protection is constitutionally and legislatively entrenched. This right aims to ensure that those who cannot support themselves and their dependants receive assistance either in the form of cash transfers or food. Against this background, this article examines the South African social welfare system and its efficacy in promoting the transformative element of social protection.
Keywords: food security, poverty, protective measures, social grants, social protection, South Africa