Extended Families' Ingdigenous Care and Protection of Children in the Context of Poverty and Limited State Social Grants [chapter]

Motlalepule Nathane, Grace Khunou
2020 Liber Amicorum: Essays in honour of Professor Edwell Kaseke and Dr Mathias Nyenti  
South African households are more likely to be constituted by more diverse groupings of kin than a two-generation nuclear household. Throughout the history of African societies, extended families have played a central role in the protection of vulnerable children. In African families in South Africa, maternal extended families take over the responsibility of child-rearing in situations where children are orphaned or born to teenage mothers out of wedlock. Children are often assimilated into
more » ... rnal families as legitimate members of the family with grandmothers as primary caregivers. The term maternal extended family is used in this chapter to refer to the extended household from the mother's side of the family where most children were born and raised. In most cases, these are households with three different generations living together. This chapter is based on the findings drawn from a qualitative study that utilised household narrative interviews from an urban township called Evaton which is in the southern part of Johannesburg. Two major findings indicate that while maternal extended families played a significant role in the care and protection of vulnerable children; deep poverty levels threatened the survival of family members and in particular, children growing up in these families. The old-age grant and child support grant remained the only reliable sources of income in these families. Secondly, the findings also indicate that the maternal extended families practised indigenous child protection strategies, demonstrating that they were heavily invested in ensuring the protection of children. The chapter argues that, while the state targeted interventions in the form of the old-age grant and child support grants makes a difference nationally to reduce poverty, in the context of urban township families with historical disadvantages, these grants remain inadequate in meeting the needs of families. This situation is further worsened by the environment where adult members of households are unemployed and had limited livelihoods opportunities.
doi:10.18820/9781928480839/12 fatcat:j5h4entdebhbvdgldeibsofbuy