South Africa: As Hunger and Malnutrition Escalate, State's Plan to Ensure Sufficient and Sustainable Food Systems Is Years Behind

analysis

While food prices soar and millions of people in South Africa continue to go hungry, the government is dragging its feet on a plan to meet the constitutional right of all citizens to have access to sufficient nutritious, safe and affordable food, and to ensure food security. Maverick Citizen investigates what's happening with the plan and the reason for the hold-up.

South Africa is not the only country with a hunger crisis affecting millions, especially in the tumultuous wake of Russia's war on Ukraine, which has aggravated fuel-price and food-price shocks. But South Africa's hunger problem is particularly acute at the moment: almost 20 million people go to bed hungry every night, says Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue, and 30 million people (of our 60-million population) run out of money every month.

Even without the severe global shortages of wheat and sunflower oil caused by the war, seven million South Africans experience chronic hunger, while 21 million are overweight or obese - the highest rates of "overnutrition" in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, micronutrient deficiencies ("hidden hunger") can occur alongside both hunger and obesity.

Sometimes, this "triple burden" of malnutrition occurs within the same household.

"We need action now," said...

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