Millions go hungry, accountability and public participation needed
One in four people go hungry in South Africa every day, and the public needs to ensure that their right to access to food enshrined in the Constitution is realised.
This is according to a report on food security produced by by the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), that was launched yesterday (27 July).
“We need public awareness campaigns so that people can know their rights and be able to participate in the policies,” said Sasha Stevenson, an attorney at human rights organisation Section27, speaking at the launch.
“Right now, the different departments are operating alone but they need to include South Africans all over the country as it is their constitutional obligation,” she added.
The report found that government had not made a coordintated policy effort to end hunger and ensure the right to food and that accountability for delivery on this right is largely non-existent.[quote float= right]“We have a concentrated system in our food value chain, then we have small farmers struggling to sell their products and consumers struggling to afford the food”
Even in rural areas most households consume more food than they produce, according to the report.
“South Africa’s food system produces enough food, yet few people have access to it. Everyone has a right to food as enshrined in the Constitution,” said Daniel McLaren co-author of the report.
Stevenson said that access to food has become so difficult because the food chain is being controlled by a few corporations: “We have a concentrated system in our food value chain, then we have small farmers struggling to sell their products and consumers struggling to afford the food,” she said.
She added that government needed to be involved throughout the process so that it is clear what the obligations of the state and private are in the chain.
According to Statistics South Africa, the number of people in the country who did not get enough food went up from 13.8 million in 2013 to 14.1 million in 2014.
The report recommends that the impact of monopolies within the food system and the role of large corporations including retailers in the food value chain be reviewed. It has also recommended an increased political will at the highest level with a strong mandate to drive towards greater food security.
The report recommends that the School Nutrition Programme (SNP) should be expanded to cover pre-school children.
Meanwhile the Department of Social Development said its household food and nutrition security strategy is aimed at addressing poor access to food. To date over 19 000 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) had been given subsidies, although the department has not been able to regulate what kind of food is being served.
“We are thinking of helping these centres by drawing up menus for them. We also want to strengthen the school nutrition programme by extending meals to breakfast, weekends and school holidays,” said Muzi Nkala from the department. –Health-e News