Children Count – Abantwana Babalulekile is an ongoing project that provides time-series statistics on the situation of children in South Africa to multiple audiences. The statistics and related commentary, as well as information on the data sources, are available at . 

The South African Constitution provides for a range of socio-economic rights for children. It is however important to track the realisation of these rights, in particular where resources should be channelled to improve the lives of children. It was for this reason that the Children's Institute launched Children Count - Abantwana Babalulekile (which means 'children are important' in isiXhosa) in 2005.

The child-centred statistics are intended as a resource for policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, the media and all those who advocate for the realisation of human rights, and children’s rights in particular. Using the best possible sources of information, including large national household surveys, administrative and modelled data, the project monitors the situation of children through 40 child-centred indicators on:

  • demography (child population figures, parental co-residence, orphaning rates and child-headed households),
  • income poverty (poverty headcount rates, adult unemployment, access to social grants for children – including monthly updates on the number of child grants disbursed),
  • education (school attendance, gender parity, accessibility of schools, pupil–teacher ratios, basic service provision in schools),
  • health (HIV prevalence, voluntary counseling and testing amongst pregnant women and access to treatment by pregnant women and children, teenage pregnancy, child mortality and immunisation rates),
  • nutrition (child hunger, stunting, wasting, underweight, micro-nutrient deficiency), and
  • living environments (housing type, overcrowding, access to adequate water, sanitation and electricity).

Selected indicators are published in the annual South African Child Gauge of the Children’s Institute. The full set of indicators is available on the Children Count website, where users can work interactively with the data – for instance to create bar charts and trend graphs, tables and maps for different years, by province, sex, age group and population group. Downloadable fact sheets and briefs are also available.

In 2012, the project started to develop indicators on the situation of young children and early childhood development. In a related project, the groundwork was laid to support the development of regional child-focused indicators for seven countries in the Southern African Development Community.

Children Count is currently supported by the DG Murray Trust. It has been developed over time with financial support from the Annie E Casey Foundation; Save the Children Sweden; Atlantic Philanthropies; the ELMA Foundation, the Department For International Development, United Kingdom; and the European Union via the Office of the President, Republic of South Africa (for the complementary National Child Poverty Monitor Project).

Current project team: Katharine Hall and Winnie Sambu, with assistance for publication in the South African Child Gauge by Lori Lake and Charmaine Smith.


Further reading

Children Count - Abantwana Babalulekile website

The Child Support Grant: Are conditions appropriate?
Hall K 2011
Children Count brief, July 2011.

Orphaning and the Foster Child Grant: A return to the ‘care or cash’ debate
Hall K & Proudlock P 2011
Children Count brief, July 2011.

Children and income poverty: A brief update
Hall K & Chennells M 2011
Children Count brief, July 2011.

In brief: A profile of children living in South Africa using the National Income Dynamics Study
Hall K & Wright G 2011
Children Count brief, July 2011, published in collaboration with the Centre for the Analysis of South African Social Policy, Oxford University.

South African Child Gauge 2010/2011
Jamieson L, Bray R, Viviers A, Lake L, Pendlebury S & Smith C (eds) 2011

South African Child Gauge 2009/2010
Kibel M, Lake L, Pendlebury P & Smith C (eds) 2010

South African Child Gauge 2008/2009
Pendlebury S, Lake L, & Smith C (eds) 2009

Child-headed households in South Africa: A statistical brief 2009
Meintjes H, Hall K, Marera D & Boulle A 2009

South African Child Gauge 2007/2008
Poudlock P, Dutschke M, Jamieson L, Monson J & Smith C (eds) 2008

South African Child Gauge 2006
Monson J, Hall K, Smith C & Shung-King M (eds) 2007

South African Child Gauge 2005
Jacobs M, Shung-King M & Smith C (eds) 2005

Facts about the up-take of the Child Support Grant (January 2006)
Leatt A 2006
Children Count - Abantwana Babalulekile fact sheet number 3 of 2006

Facts about children and housing in South Africa (2006)
Hall K 2006
Children Count - Abantwana Babalulekile fact sheet number 2 of 2006

Facts about child deaths in South Africa (2006)
Abrahams K 2006
Children Count - Abantwana Babalulekile fact sheet number 1 of 2006

Rapid Assessment: The situation of children in South Africa
Berry L & Guthrie T November 2003