• Editor

General Household Survey, 2020


Statistics South Africa released its social and household service delivery statistics, with data showing that early childhood development was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown containment measures. School attendance was negatively affected as, compared to 2019, a much larger percentage of children aged five (37,7% compared to 10,9%) and six years (11,8% compared to 3,5%) did not attend an educational institution in 2020. Although enrolment in education was still extremely high, a comparison with 2019 shows that a slightly higher percentage of children in older age groups were not attending school.


COVID-19 has also had a distinct impact on the nature of child care arrangements for children aged 0–4 years in 2020. The percentage of children that attended grade R, pre-school, nursery school, crèche, and edu-care centres decreased from 36,8% in 2019 to 24,2% in 2020, while 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.

Social grants remain a vital safety net, particularly in the poorest provinces. The rollout of the special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant (SRD) in 2020 has played a central role in protecting individuals and households against the loss of income during this period. Grants were the second most important source of income (52,9%) for households after salaries (57,6%), and the main source of income for about one-fifth (28,8%) of households nationally. 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%). Grants were also particularly important for households in Eastern Cape (44,8%) and Limpopo (42,3%).


Due to the high uptake of the R350 per month grant, the percentage of individuals who accessed grants increased to 34,9% in 2020, while the percentage of households that received at least one grant increased to 52,4% in 2020. It is notable that the percentage of persons that had access to at least one form of social grant decreased from 34,9% to 30,7% if and when the SRD grants were excluded.


The GHS 2020, which tracks progress in development and provide data on household and service delivery statistics, show that access to water, sanitation, and electricity was on the increase in 2020.


The percentage of households with access to an improved source of water increased from 84,4% to 89,1% between 2002 and 2020. The increases were most notable in Eastern Cape (+16,0 percentage points) and KwaZulu-Natal (+11,5 percentage points). Despite these notable improvements, percentage access to water declined in a number of provinces between 2002 and 2020. That said, the absolute number of households with access to piped water continue to increase every year


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 most improvement was noted in Eastern Cape where the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increased by 59,3 percentage points to 92,7%, and Limpopo in which access increased 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.


A comparison with 2019 data shows that the percentage of households whose members washed their hands with soap and water after using the toilet increased from 43,6% to 61,4%, while rinsing with water decreased from 50,8% to 33,3%. It is also notable that the percentage of households whose members did not clean their hands at all decreased from 3,7% in 2019 to 1,2% in 2020.


An increase in the percentage of households that were connected to the electricity supply from the mains from 76,7% in 2002 to 90,0% in 2020, 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%) is, however, an indication that available resources are still very accessible and, most likely, less expensive than using electricity. One fifth (21,5%) of households did not use electricity for cooking in 2020.


Three-fifths (62,7%) of households in South Africa had their refuse removed weekly or less regularly in 2020. Notably, refuse removal was much more common in urban than in rural areas (84,5% compared to 12,5%), while 85,8% of households in metropolitan areas had access to these services.


Technical enquiries:


Mr Niel Roux

Director: Service Delivery Statistics

Tel: 012 301 2939

Mobile: 082 904 7919

Email: NielR@statssa.gov.za


Mr Solly Molayi

Chief Director: Social Statistics

Tel: 012 337 6379

Mobile: 083 440 7035

Email: SollyMol@statssa.gov.za