Poverty and social unrest in South Africa. Although the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index ranks South Africa as a middle-income country, the way in which income is distributed across the population is highly skewed. Some 39 per cent of the population, estimated at more than 49 million people, lives on less than R 388 a month. One consequence of poverty and high levels of unemployment is social unrest. A large proportion of South Africa’s poor population live in the eastern half of the country, which is also the area with the largest share of black population.