University of Johannesburg: Food crisis deepens in black African households

The year of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on household food security and on child hunger. These findings are among those cited in the third wave of The National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) compiled by a research team from the University of Stellenbosch, Prof Servaas van Der Berg, Grace Bridgman and Prof Leila Patel the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development within the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

The 18-page report which was released recently, suggests that although there have long been racial disparities in food insecurity, the gaps are widening amid the pandemic. The research found that household hunger in the black African population group decreased from 26% in May/June to 19% in July/August before significantly rising again to 22% in November/December last year. For the coloured population, the decline was from 16% to 9%. It was impossible to observe any significant patterns for Asian/Indians and whites over time because of their smaller number, and because far fewer households in these groups lack money for food.

According to Prof Leila Patel, “the hunger levels that we are already observing are only the tip of the iceberg as they hide the malnutrition that is less easily observable but that will continue to leave many South African children stunted. It is therefore important that poverty relief measures should continue to enjoy great priority in fiscal and policy choices, despite the undoubtedly difficult fiscal trade-offs that need to be made.”

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