Survey that reveals that more than half of South Africans do not have regular access to enough food vindicates NUMSA’s views on the country’s high levels of poverty
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa NUMSA feels vindicated by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) national health and nutrition examination survey released yesterday Tuesday 06 August 2013 that revealed that more than half of South Africans do not have regular access to enough food.
For a while now, NUMSA has warned that levels of food insecurity in South Africa were unacceptably high. As recent as May 2013, when the union launched its Campaign for Land Redistribution and Agrarian Transformation; we warned that unless the agro-processing conglomerates were broken up there were little chances of ensuring food security in the country.
It is in the context of these warnings that the union has received with shock and anger the report that;
• Less than half of the households surveyed in 2012 are food secure, with 26% experiencing hunger and 28,3% at risk of hunger.
• The state of food security diminishes as one shifts from formal to informal areas, both in urban and rural settings. The experience of hunger in households in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Northwest, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal is above the 26% average.
What worries NUMSA most is that the trend for both those experiencing hunger and those at risk of hunger is upwards; compared to the 2008 South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) results.
For the union, the picture that the HSRC paints is nothing else but a violation of the right to food is enshrined in Sections 27 (1)(b) and 28 (1)(b) of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa. It is also a sign that the pledge to halve the number of people who are hungry in South Africa and to reduce poverty by 50% between 2004 and 2014 as aligned to the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remains a pipedream.
In light of the new survey results on food insecurity in South Africa, NUMSA calls;
• Immediate policy interventions aimed at stabilising food prices and curbing agro-food market fluctuations. According to the HSRC report, price is the highest factor that influences grocery shopping.
• The establishment of state-owned food company with outlets that will ensure fair and reasonable pricing of food products for the public. The food parastatal will also ensure that a food basket is accessible to poor households and will provide a system of food coupons the poor and vulnerable.
• The establishment of a common food security target that will state what the floor will be for ensuring that every household is food secure and act a component of broad safety net.
• A review of Zero-Hunger Programme and the Integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS) which the South African government adopted in 2002 so that it is in line with an agreed food security target.
• The development of a food and nutrition security monitoring and evaluation system that will act as a warning mechanism and indicate appropriately when food insecurity threatens households and communities.
Castro Ngobese, Numsa National Spokesperson, 0810111137