The COVID-19 pandemic reveals an unprecedented rise in hunger: South African government was ill-prepared to meet the challenge

SOURCE: Scientific African
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): T.G.B.Hart, Y.D.Davids, S.Rule, P.Tirivanhu, S.Mtyingizane
DEPARTMENT: Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9812235
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/19267

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Recent research has shown increasing household food and nutrition insecurity in South Africa, indicating weaknesses in the national food system due to historical and current socioeconomic inequalities. The lack of inclusive governance and collaboration among actors and institutions to develop long-term strategies increase the problem. Such weaknesses intensify the governments ill-preparedness to provide food relief during disasters. We drew upon two rounds of the longitudinal University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Councils COVID-19 Democracy Survey to illustrate how illpreparedness has resulted in increased hunger. The rollout of food relief was slow because the state ignored established non-governmental food relief structures. Delayed tender processes and corruption have worsened local distribution and access to food relief, increasing households' hunger. Individuals reported higher experiences of hunger above pre-COVID-19 figures of 11% attaining highs of 42% in 2020. We argue that COVID-19 has emphasised the South African food systems inequalities, particularly the states inability to ensure integration, inclusiveness and rapidly provide emergency food relief. We focused on individual and households' experiences of hunger and economic circumstances. Challenges were evident where access to food was provided in-kind or through financial aid. The pandemic food relief interventions and the lack of food price controls were serious challenges. The state and stakeholders must prevent high transitory food insecurity levels from resulting in chronic food insecurity. The states practices and challenges during lockdown must be examined to ensure this situation does not reoccur. Some essential foods require subsidisation and price regulation to ensure long-term access for the poor. To ensure zero hunger and increased food security, these elements of the NDP must be re- The 4th Industrial Revolution and its Implications for Mining-Dependent Countries examined. Research is required on vulnerabilities in the system, ways to overcome these and the understanding of factors contributing to system-wide resilience, including at individual and household levels.