Handful of civil society organisations allegedly invited to food policy consultations

Handful of civil society organisations allegedly invited to food policy consultationsFile Picture.

Activists have alleged that only five civil society organisations were invited to today’s public consultation on government’s new food policy.

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healthyfoodThis comes just weeks after more than 20 organisations and individuals called on government to hold nationwide public consultations on its new policy to curb hunger.

In August, government gazetted its latest plan to address hunger and food insecurity. At the time, government noted policymakers were in the advanced stages of drafting an accompany implementation plan set to begin last month.

According to Advocacy and Campaigns Officer for the Studies in Policy and Inequality Institute (SPII) think tank Busiso Moyo, the policy and the implementation plan were  “developed under a veil of secrecy” and with glaring omissions. Among the policy’s shortcomings is its failure to address the role of big business in combating hunger, Moyo added.

On 4 March SPII joined more than 20 organisations and individuals including the international non-profit dedicated to poverty eradication Oxfam in calling on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to hold nationwide consultations on the policy and implementation plan.

In particular, activists including South African Human Rights Commissioner Pregs Govender, stressed that government needed to ensure that the voices of those most affected by hunger – the poor – were heard in these consultations.

According to a statement released late yesterday, only five civil society organisations, including FHI360, SPII, Oxfam and SECTION27, were ultimately formally invited to today’s public consultation in Benoni.

“People living in poverty and facing hunger have a right to be part of crafting the solution to the challenges that they face,” said Oxfam Economic Justice Campaigns Advisor Nokutula Mhene (corr) in the statement. “Yet we have a government department that has not heeded the need for wide public consultation instead choosing to host ‘secret’ consultations where only a few are asked to participate.”

Oxfam, SPII and Section27 are continuing to call for multiple and highly publicized consultations to take place across the country.

The public consultation takes place today in Benoni and follows a similar meeting held yesterday with the DAFF and academics.

The latest South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that one in four South Africans reported regularly going hungry. – Health-e News.