Food security in South Africa

by ALTMAN, M, HART, T & JACOBS P, 2009
Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

The Human Sciences Research Council project on household food security in South Africa focused on measuring food security, the role of smallholder production, and the impact of gender and HIV and AIDS on food security. Some the key findings include:·There has been a dramatic fall in the experience of hunger since 2002, but under-nutrition remains a serious concern.· A large proportion of people experiencing hunger live in metropolitan areas.· About half of households experiencing hunger are eligible for but do not receive grants.· The majority of small-scale farmers are young people.· Women play a key role in achieving household food security. ·HIV and AIDS negatively affect food security. The paper provides some ideas for the way forward:·Given the depth of household food insecurity, government should identify a food security target within the overall objective of reducing poverty, and set clear policy directions in support of this target.· An affordable and regular national system is needed to monitor food security status.· Small-scale and subsistence agriculture might contribute to incomes and/or savings, as well as encourage food diversification. ·An improved system of social protection is needed to stabilise food consumption.· Lowering the cost of food and improving consumer education could enable households to consume more diverse and nutritionally adequate foods.·  Targeted programmes are needed to support female-headed households.· At household level, South Africa’s food security strategy must consider the bidirectional, negative interactions between food security and HIV and AIDS.