This paper relates to a programme of quantitative and qualitative research conducted in four informal settlements in Gauteng Province, South Africa between 1997 and 2001. Methods included a panel survey of 50 households in each settlement, a series of focus groups and interviews using a range of participatory methods, and the daily diaries of eight local people. By combining the analysis of these data, the research identified different socio-economic groups within the populations. This paper addresses the question of whether some individuals or households were chronically poor, and if so, what were the characteristics of this poverty in an urban context. It considers the dynamics of change (or lack of change) in a range of assets at individual and household levels.
The settlements were all involved in upgrading and service-delivery projects associated with the government's housing subsidy scheme. The paper considers the extent to which different groups were able to benefit from these changes. This has wide implications for the subsidy scheme and development policy in South Africa in general. The paper concentrates on the lessons to be learned by NGOs in addressing chronic urban poverty. The first concerns the need to monitor the impact of interventions on the chronically poor. This raises methodological questions about the adaptation and use of conceptual frameworks, and the most cost and time-effective use of quantitative and qualitative research tools. A second, broader lesson concerns the choice of entry points for development interventions: service delivery, income-generation or social mobilisation. The research highlights some of the issues involved in this choice.
Chronic poverty in urban informal settlements in South Africa:combining quantitative and qualitative data to monitor the impact of interventions, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 17 pp.