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Social deprivation and government employment of the non-profit sector: a two-phased interrogation of the welfare policy-practice phenomenon in KwaZulu-Natal.

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Social services delivery in South Africa is substantially achieved through the contracting by provincial governments of select civil society organisations, required to be registered as non-profit organisations. The questions that arise are whether non-profit organisations operate in the area of greatest deprivation and whether the contractual relationships established by government with select non-profit organisations effectively impact citizen deprivation. Conducted from a pragmatic research perspective as a principally quantitative enquiry, the research investigates at the level of population study, in two phases, the phenomenon of non-profit organisation welfare service delivery in KwaZulu-Natal. The first phase interrogates the spatial relationship between the distribution of the human-welfare non-profit organisations and the distribution of human deprivation over the eleven municipal districts of KwaZulu-Natal. Undertaken as a cross-sectional study, a multidimensional deprivation measurement instrument was developed to measure deprivation throughout the province. Correlative association testing was performed to assess the form and extent of the relationship between all registered non-profit organisations, as well as the subset government-contracted non-profit organisations, and deprivation intensity. The second phase of the study was conducted as a five-year longitudinal investigation of provincial government’s disbursements to contracted non-profit welfare organisations, from fiscal year 2013. Regression analysis was undertaken for each provincial District Municipality, modelling the impact of annual disbursements to contracted NPO welfare providers on district poverty headcounts. The goal was to determine the explanatory effect of this expenditure on provincial deprivation levels. The findings of the first phase reveal that there is no discernable relationship between the provincial incidence of welfare non-profit organisations generally and the deprivation experienced by the provincial population. However, a very distinctive positive association is distinguished between the geographic incidence of deprivation and the location of government-contracted non-profit organisations. Second phase analysis demonstrates there is limited impact of government contracted non-profit organisation welfare provision on deprivation intensity in any region of KwaZulu-Natal. The evidence demonstrates that government’s social developmental welfare spend is neither impactful, nor judiciously targeted. It is concluded that this spending is palliative at best, markedly distinct from government’s stated ambition.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.