The results of a government survey show that over half of the population of South Africa lives in poverty in the wealthiest African nation.

government study has shown that more than half of the people in South Africa live in poverty

The national agency Statistics South Africa conducted the survey in 2009 and released the results on Tuesday.

The research showed that poverty levels in South Africa increased between 2006 and 2009.

“Using the upper-bound poverty line which takes into consideration both food and non-food needs, approximately 52.3 percent of the population was living below that line,” the statistics agency said.

South Africa ranks 29 in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). However, the study showed that nearly 26.3 percent of people in the country are not able to afford proper food.

The northern province of Limpopo is the most destitute in the country with almost three-quarters of its people living below the poverty line, the agency said.

Meanwhile, another report recently published by the statistics agency showed that growth in South Africa experienced a sharp decline in the third quarter of 2012 due to a series of strikes that hit the mining sector.

Earlier this month, the South African Reserve Bank also slashed its growth outlook for 2013 to 2.9 percent from 3.4 percent and cautioned that growth would slow significantly in the coming months.