Did you know that hunger affects 1.7 million households across the country? A staggering 27% of our children under the age of 5 are stunted due to a lack of nutrients in the womb resulting in lifelong challenges.
According to Oxfam, food security occurs when all people at all times have sufficient, safe, nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy lifestyle. However, food security is about more than just having sufficient supplies. It also requires food accessibility, affordability, nutrition and stability. And this is where the challenge lies.
Although South Africa is generally a secure food country at national level, there are long standing challenges where the poorest of the poor are not able to afford food. Recently our country has seen the rate of hunger increase significantly. The pandemic itself was not the cause of the recent spike of food insecurity in South Africa, but rather the measures put in place by the government to manage the spread of the virus. Truth is Covid-19 has laid this prevailing reality bare.
South Africa experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. While important to control the spread of the pandemic, this resulted in one of the biggest economic declines our country has seen in nearly a century. An estimated 2.2 million people lost their jobs with devastating effects. And then came the violence and destruction of property in parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces where our President warned against yet another risk to food security. Income poverty because of the recent destruction of businesses is directly related to food security.
Every South African has a right to sufficient food and water, it’s in our constitution and in the past five years there has been an increase in attention given to food security issues by government. But what can we as ordinary South Africans do to help?
A lot of work needs to be done in order to decrease the rate of hunger in the country and change starts with you to build an economy that provides for our people.
Many of us are looking for ways to give back. You can help. We could all start by wasting less. An estimated one third of the world’s current food supply for human consumption is being wasted every year. Prevent food wastage by sharing leftovers from home or restaurants with those who are hungry.
Reduce the amount of meat you eat. 40% of grain crops globally go to feed livestock and fish. If that grain was fed to humans instead of livestock, we could alleviate hunger from 925 million people. Huge, right?
Advocate for school meal programs or start a school garden to ensure that learners have access to healthy nutritious food. Every day, countless children turn up for school on an empty stomach. For them, a daily school meal can not only mean better nutrition and health, but also increased access to, and achievement in education.
Volunteer to collect food and transport food from restaurants and farmers willing to donate. Instead of throwing food out, food can be made available to those in need. Or simply donate from the comfort of your own home. There are literally dozens of organizations in desperate need that need your help in the fight against hunger.
Our people are hungry. These may be small steps, but they will make a difference.
Source: theconversation.com, statssa.gov.za, gcis.gov.za, link. Springer.com, trees.org.za, uwcf.org, globalcitizen.org
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