Food Security Definitions, Measurements and Recent Initiatives in South Africa and Southern Africa

by HART, T, 2009
Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

The international debate on food security has changed during the past thirty years, culminating in a more robust but nuanced understanding. No longer is the availability of food at national level sufficient; all people must be able to access enough nutritious food at all times, no matter how marginal the areas in which they reside. While the responses to transitory food security shocks in southern Africa have improved, chronic food insecurity remains high. South Africa’s Integrated Food Security Strategy is unlikely to achieve its targets, owing to a lack of resources and coordination, as well as the paucity of comprehensive data and research to guide delivery. Concerns about current research include multiple definitions of food insecurity, a wide variety of indicators, and the absence of an overarching framework to guide the use of different food security measures. To improve the effectiveness of food security endeavours in South Africa, there is an urgent need to understand the constraints experienced at all levels of the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme, including the apparent lack of oversight by ministers and directors general in the relevant ministries. In addition, national research tools need to be refined, and food security modules included in national survey instruments. Research also needs to focus on developing techniques for monitoring and vulnerability assessments. Greater collaboration with other countries in southern Africa, at both research and government levels, is also required.