Economic growth has not delivered to the poor in South Africa. In 2012, “28.3% were at risk of hunger … and 26.0% experienced hunger”. So more than half of our population are fully or partially food insecure. What economic growth has done is bring wealth to the few. It has deepened inequality and damaged social cohesion:
“South Africa stands as one of the most unequal countries in the world. The top decile of the population accounts for 58% of the country’s income, while the bottom decile accounts for only 0.5% and the bottom half less than 8%.”
These figures are shocking. It is all the more horrific because economic growth is often put forward as the reason why we cannot take better care of the environment. But if growth is not delivering jobs and income to the poor, it is nonetheless taking away things that the poor used to access for free, like clean air, water, beauty, plant medicines and food. So they end up with less than what they used to have before we started growing.
A good example of this happening is the havoc wreaked by climate change. We are now beginning to see the outcome in the form of extreme weather. Global warming is leading to more frequent and more severe floods and droughts. The predictions are that this will become worse. It takes greenhouse gases time to disperse. Even if we cut carbon emissions to zero tomorrow – which we won’t – we would still be stuck with historic accumulations in the atmosphere, which would take about three to four decades to return to pre-twentieth century levels. This means that for the rest of my life-time, at least, I will never see the climate of my childhood again.
For the poor it means increasing poverty. When you have very little, losing all of it in the winter floods which have become a feature of every Cape Town winter season means a catastrophe. Extended summer droughts and strong winds means that when a shack-fire starts it cannot be put out in time. Every year thousands of people are rendered homeless and bankrupt through extreme weather. For the ten percent of people who share half a percent of the national income, bank accounts are a luxury. What little money and assets they have are kept at home. So when the shack burns or disappears under water the poor literally lose everything. It is not as if they can go replace bank cards and draw on their assets.
What is more, if the past twenty years of growth has not delivered for the poor our room for action to make a difference in their lives is steadily shrinking because of climate change. After this last summer’s extreme weather, the bill to the taxpayer is now coming due. The cost of repairing flood damage to infrastructure in North West province is estimated at R 100 million.  The City of Tshwane needs to spend R 124 million.  Limpopo province says it will need R 317 million for repairs.
These costs do not include health and social services costs, or the money people are going to have to pay to rebuild their houses and replace lost furniture. Or the 11 dead and hundreds injured. Essentially, climate change is draining resources away from development. All those millions will have to be taken from some other budget, whether health, education or housing. Climate change means we have less money left to support the poor. Instead they, too, are left to deal with the fact that the weather of their youth is gone forever.
So most of these Khoelife blogs talk about the quality of our soaps and oils. That is correct, you should be buying the stuff because it feels good on your skin. But the fact is that every single bar and lotion is made using energy efficiency savings and renewable energy. In renewable energy we also count human energy. We do everything by hand that can be done by hand, because it is important to us to create jobs and save the ecosystem. No other company offers you this value added.
Thinking globally and acting locally is not always easy. Still, when you buy Khoelife products, you are doing something positive to save the planet’s weather system. Every little bit matters.
Practice direct action for climate justice today!!! Order from firstname.lastname@example.org
 . Shisana O, Labadarios D, Rehle T, Simbayi L, Zuma K, Dhansay A, Reddy P, Parker W, Hoosain E, Naidoo P, Hongoro C, Mchiza Z, Steyn NP, Dwane N, Makoae M, Maluleke T, Ramlagan S, Zungu N, Evans MG, Jacobs L, Faber M South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey HSRC Press, Cape Town, 2013, pp. 145-146.
 . Sharma, Sudhansu Rising Inequality In South Africa: Srivers, Trends and Policy Responses, Consultancy Africa Intelligence, Johannesburg, 2012. Available at http://www.consultancyafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1142:rising-inequality-in-south-africa-drivers-trends-and-policy-responses-&catid=87:african-finance-a-economy&Itemid=294