New deal to fight hunger

13 October 2014 - 02:02 By Poppy Louw
MUCH-NEEDED HELP: Striking miners line up for food parcels delivered at the St Mark church in Marikana by the South African Food Bank this week
MUCH-NEEDED HELP: Striking miners line up for food parcels delivered at the St Mark church in Marikana by the South African Food Bank this week
Image: Picture: AFP

A National Food Act is needed to deal with the scourge of hunger and malnutrition.

A report released by Oxfam today refers to food insecurity and hunger in this country as a "national scandal". The report asserts that new legislation would have greater force than existing laws incorporating piecemeal policies.

Government statistics show that one in four South Africans is going hungry and another quarter are at risk of hunger.

Eastern Cape is said to have a higher proportion of people going hungry.

Particularly vulnerable groups are women, and woman- and child-headed households.

More than two-thirds (68%) of people in urban informal settlements are going hungry or are at risk of hunger. The figure is slightly higher in rural informal settlements.

One such family is that of an unemployed fisherman from Ocean View, Western Cape.

The middle-aged married man told Oxfam that cheaper and less healthy foods were the only option for many families in his community.

He said they could not go to a market to buy food because travel costs were too high.

"We have to travel around 5km outside Ocean View, a half-hour journey that costs R20 each way by taxi. We can buy two loaves of bread with that R20," he said.

Yoliswa Stemele, of Ngobazana, Eastern Cape, said poverty caused her to feel that she had been stripped of her dignity.

She makes a living by selling juice from the aloes she picks in the forest, and by laundering and cleaning.

The testimonies of residents of nine municipalities in Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Limpopo are published in the report Hidden Hunger in South Africa: The Faces of Hunger and Malnutrition in a Food-secure Nation.

Oxfam economic justice campaign manager Rashmi Mistry said new legislation, "developed from the bottom up", should put an end to hunger at the heart of government policy and centralise the implementation of policies to eradicate hunger instead of fragmenting it among government departments.

"Hunger strips away dignity, perpetuates inequality and destroys people's ability to prosper," she said.

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