Speaker, thank you very much. Hon members, more than 316 000 households or 1,6 million people that live in poverty have been profiled in about 350 of the most deprived wards in the country to date.
The War on Poverty Campaign targets young people from poor households as change agents, given the potential that they represent to break the cycle of poverty in their households. We seek to improve the capability and opportunities of these young people by connecting them to available opportunities in order for them to rise from poverty and, in turn, to take their own families and communities out of poverty. Thus, the role of the household change agent is to monitor and ensure that commitments made by both government and the households to lifting the household out of poverty are on track. Public employment through the Expanded Public Works Programme, the Community Work Programme and the National Rural Youth Service Corps is used as the primary instrument to address the unemployment of household change agents.
The Community Work Programme provides up to 120 working days per year for unemployed young people, while the National Rural Youth Service Corps has 11 500 young people enlisted to undergo training in different areas of skills and expertise for a period of two years. This period will be extended to four years to incorporate the placement of household change agents in work areas or to assist them to start small businesses.
Let us now look at just some examples of the work that government has done, particularly in rural communities, to empower unemployed young people. Following our visit to Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal in 2011, the then Deputy Minister of Public Works returned to that area to start a programme for the young people there.
In this regard the Department of Public Works recruited 110 change agents to work on the department's water treatment plant. These young people were provided with a six-month training programme, during which period they received stipends. Ten of these young people participated in an internship programme and five of them have since returned to school. On completion of the training programme, the remaining 95 were absorbed into continuing work on the water treatment plant and they were offered permanent employment. As part of this initiative, 32 qualified artisans and technicians were brought in to work as supervisors in the programme.
At Eshowe the Department of Public Works recruited 20 young people for learnerships and six for internship programmes from the group identified as change agents.
At Gombani village, Vhembe District in Limpopo province, the Department of Public Works started a project of women in construction, in which they recruited 48 women to build houses in their community. These women have since built 22 houses. Twenty-four young people were also recruited to work on the same project.
A similar project was initiated at Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, where a brick-making machine was purchased through the support of the Department of Human Settlements to enable women to participate in alternative construction methods.
These are examples of how change agents are empowered in order to lift their families out of the grip of poverty. Thank you.