Learn more about specific causes in South Africa that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentSouth Africa is highly susceptible to climate change and oceanic fluctuations because it is surrounded by ocean to the east, west, and south. Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves are common.1 Climate change, pollution, and changing sea levels are also destroying biodiversity and ecosystems. There is a significant amount of crude oil pollution on the coastline because of oil transport from the Arabian Gulf.2
FamilyUnder the apartheid system in the 20th century, South Africans were sequestered into very distinct classes based on their race, and there are still lasting effects of this today. Violence against women is rampant and widespread, but most cases go unreported.1
Human RightsThere are still many inequalities lingering from apartheid, and racism and classism are common. In addition, there are many instances recorded of xenophobic violence and prejudice against migrants and those seeking asylum in South Africa.1
EducationSouth Africa spends more than any other African country on education, and school is mandatory for children aged 7-15. Despite their efforts to improve education, the quality is still dismal with nearly 25% of students failing end of year examinations.1 There are significant differences between children in rural and urban areas, and many in rural areas have less access to qualified teachers and necessary supplies.2 The national literacy rate is at 93% and the primary school enrollment rate is nearly 100%.3
PovertyApproximately 16% of the population lives below the poverty line.1
ReligionThe population of South Africa is approximately 36% Protestant, 7.1% Catholic, 1.5% Muslim, 36% other Christian, and 15% non religious.1
Clean WaterApproximately five million South Africans do not have access to clean water. Cities feel strain on their water supplies as urbanization increases. Additionally, climate change has dried up water sources and caused more frequent droughts which has made the water supply dwindle. In some places, the situation is so dire that water is stolen and distributed illegally.1 Approximately 95% of the population has clean drinking water and 74% have access to adequate sanitation infrastructure.2
EconomyWeak rule of law and government corruption have impeded the South African economy from living up to its potential. Frequent political instability makes it difficult for foreign investments and the private sector to flourish. The unemployment rate of South Africa is near 25%, and the biggest exports are natural resources like gold and platinum and manufacturing.1
GovernmentSouth Africa’s government is a constitutional republic, which, up until 1994, was controlled by the white minority under a system of systematic racism. A president acts as both the head of state and the head of the government, governs the country, and is elected by the people in fairly free elections.1 There have been increased levels of corruption in recent years, and the government-run media is extremely partial, and some reporters opposing the current government have been arrested unjustly. Bribes are common and only a small elite hold office.2
Health7 million people live with HIV in South Africa, and each year, there are over 100,000 AIDs related deaths.1 HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in the country, and it is the biggest HIV epidemic in the world.2 The life expectancy is 63.3
ChildrenThe South African government is working to provide adequate care to children who are orphaned, vulnerable, or experiencing violence. There is a long history of social fracturing and violence, and an extreme burden of HIV has increased the number of orphans that are living in the country.1 There are an estimated 3.7 million orphaned children in South Africa.2 The infant mortality rate in South Africa is 34 deaths per 1,000 live births.3
AnimalsSouth Africa boasts an extremely diverse array of animals like leopards, rhinos, giraffes, and lions. Rhino poaching is a serious problem in South Africa, and between 2007 and 2013, poaching increased by over 7,000%.1 In 2017, the South African government made it legal to sell rhino horns, and some conservationists are concerned that this will further exacerbate the damage being done. South Africa is home to 70% of all the rhinos on the planet, and their horns are popular to trade in East Asian countries for medicinal purposes.2
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