Food Insecurity the Next Big Hurdle Approaching SA’s COVID-19 Wreaked Economy

“It is time for South Africans to pull our resources together and be ready to respond to what might end up being a humanitarian crisis."

food parcels
Social solidarity networks have an edge over government: speed, innovation, and local responsiveness. Getty Images

The relaxation of rules under level 3 of the lockdown regulations allowing for more economic activity comes amid a continuing job’s bloodbath.

Several large South African corporates including SAA, Edcon, SABC and Cell C among others have recently announced plans for massive reductions in headcount.

Karl Muller, operations manager at Tiger Brands Foundation, says the development follows disappointing financial performances all round.

In his adjusted budget speech, the minister of finance also announced that the economy is expected to contract by as much as 7%.

Muller says the number of people who will soon be out of work from large, medium or small businesses and indeed the NGO sector is staggering.

“We are going to see a dramatic increase in the number of people who will be pushed into a state of poverty and food insecurity in the not too distant future,” predicts Muller.

A recent study conducted by Stats-SA revealed that the percentage of respondents who reported receiving no income increased from 5,2% before the lockdown to 15,4% by the sixth week of the national lockdown.

However, the study also showed that many of those respondents indicated that their income drop was offset by income from other sources including UIF and personal savings.

“However, these resources (savings and UIF) can only be relied on for a very limited period,” says Muller.

He believes that the work that government, corporates, and those NGOs that still have resources to provide food, must continue.

“We need to anticipate a South Africa where food insecurity is going to become exaggerated and we need to start planning for that reality today,” says Muller.

He said he was heartened by the initiatives taken by South Africans from all walks of life, as individuals or through corporate action when they responded to the need for basic nutrition across the country.

“It is time for South Africans to pull our resources together and be ready to respond to what might end up being a humanitarian crisis,” urges Muller.

Muller says in-school nutrition programmes will become more vital as the economy takes more strain.

He urged companies and individuals to continue to play their part in ensuring that children do not go hungry by continuing to support in-school nutrition programmes as learners return to the classroom.

Tiger Brand Foundation provides a hot, nutritious daily breakfast to 74 455 learners in more than 100 underprivileged schools across the country every single school day.

Leave a Reply