South African Population Research
Infrastructure Network


What have we been up to in SAPRIN?

5 November 2021

Recent highlights include giving a talk at a national conference on World Population Day and a great Steering Committee meeting chaired for the first time by Prof Glenda Gray.

SAPRIN staff work at many levels, from face-to-face interviews and data programming to laboratory management and human resource administration, while at the Management Hub we keep the network balanced and functioning smoothly, as well as preparing research translations to feed into national dialogues. In this way, an opportunity came for Mark Collinson to speak at the World Population Day commemorative event, hosted by the Department of Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the theme, ‘Rights and choices: the prospects of Youth Demographic Dividend’, on 12 – 13 October 2021. Mark’s input was on ‘Rural South African youth migration, livelihood prospects and Covid impacts’, and the presentation was well received. The key message was that temporary migration is crucial for rural youth to enter employment and we need to make migration easier and safer for a dividend to emerge from the high proportion of youth in the population. The message fitted with the conference atmosphere where the tough backgrounds of unemployment and chronic poverty were countered by vigorous debate and a spirit of innovation.

The biannual SAPRIN Steering Committee meeting was held on 26 October 2021 and one participant captured the mood by saying, “It felt like we were discussing a running research infrastructure, rather than one being implemented”. There were several helpful discussions and dialogues between the SAMRC, DSI and other members. Glenda Gray, the new chair of the Steering Committee, brought original and progressive ideas. Aspects covered included a financial overview, a review of milestones achieved, new nodes to be developed, and the current leadership model, as well as reviewing multi-nodal studies underway and in preparation, and the public release of new SAPRIN datasets. Another feature we were happy to report on was restarting the training programme on longitudinal analytic methods with Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) data, which had been postponed over the Covid period.