I’ve been doing charity work for a few years now and in my affiliations with many orphanages, daycare and children’s and community centers, I’ve certainly witnessed my share of sorrow, poverty and neglect.
When asked about their most urgent needs, the first one ALWAYS seems to be food. Some of them are lucky enough to have vegetable gardens and/or receive grants from the government. The bulk of the places I support, however, struggle on a day to day basis just to feed the children and families in their care. Most of them have no water and no funding to have a borehole and pump installed, which means that having a garden for fresh vegetables is out of the question. Water is often delivered, but is so expensive that they ration it so that the children can, at least, have some clean drinking water.
You need to keep in mind that most of them are caring for young children between the ages of 2 and 6…the developmental years. If these children do not receive proper nutrition, they will never be able to develop into healthy and mentally fit adults. Hungry children simply cannot learn.
And this is just the children….entire households in the areas I visit suffer and those are the only those I know about. Supporting 31 facilities around Pretoria means that I’m barely scratching the surface. The scope of this problem is astronomical and reaches far beyond the borders of South Africa. Food security is something that millions of people worldwide simply do not have.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries it was found that, in 2013, nearly 12 million people are ‘’food insecure’’ in South Africa alone. [Source: TimesLiveSA] ‘’Food security’’ refers to the ability of a community to access adequate nutrition, meaning food that is affordable, hygienic and culturally accepted.
Graeme Hosken wrote an article for TimesLiveSA in January 2013 in which he mentioned the shocking results of a five-year study by the University of Cape Town’s African Food Security Unit Network. The study included poor communities from 11 cities across South Africa. The survey covered 1060 households in each city. [Source: TimesLiveSA].
According to the survey, the hungriest people are in Cape Town (80%) and KwaZulu-Natal (87%). In Johannesburg the survey found that 43% of the poor faced starvation and malnutrition. [Source: TimesLiveSA]
The final figures of the survey showed that 77% of all households were either moderately or severely food insecure and that there were two distinct ‘’hunger periods’’: January and during the winter months. It was also found that the poorest households spent 53% of their income on food. [Source: TimesLiveSA]
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele added that if 12 million people in South Africa are food insecure, it implies that nearly 4 million households are faced with starvation. [Source: TimesLiveSA]
A year after these statistics were revealed, Oxfam published an articled stating that “South Africa is considered a ‘’food secure’’ nation, producing enough calories to adequately feed every one of its 53 million people. However, the reality is that one in four people currently suffers hunger on a regular basis and more than half of the population live in such precarious circumstances that they are at a risk of going hungry.’’ [Source: Oxfam.org]
From experience in the poor communities of our country, I (and I’m sure many health workers and charity organizations will agree)have first-hand experience of the extent of hunger and malnutrition and of intense levels of poverty these people have to face daily. Families in many of the communities we support live in shacks….one of the daycare centres I often visit actually has metal containers that serve as classrooms… The able adults are mostly unemployed and can therefore not afford to buy food or water, not to mention medicine, gas, firewood, clothing, etc. As the population continues to grow, job opportunities become lesser still, which, in turn, just keep this vicious cycle of starvation, disease and death going. Oxfam confirms this and continues to report that with ‘’unemployment levels at 25% nationally and over 15 million people receiving social grants, people do not have enough money to buy food.” [Source: Oxfam.org]
There is not a single cause for hunger, more, it is a combination of circumstances that can result in the death of an entire generation. Have a look at the brilliant Infograph by TheFeedFoundation below. They managed to provide a clear, easily understood, picture of the problem and its causes, while incorporating statistics.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
* Begin in your own community – have a look at your neighbor. Are they quietly starving? Often people neglect to open their eyes to the poverty on their own doorstep.
* Find a community program or center in your area and donate time, money or food. Many communities have outreach programmes that provide daily meals to poor families. (If you live in Pretoria, one such a center is in Pretoria North: Tshwane North Outreach and Wolmer Community Project.) If you cannot find such a programme, why not consider starting one yourself?
* Get in touch with one of the listed organizations below and offer your help or contribute financially.
* DO NOT WASTE FOOD! Share left-overs it with the beggar on the corner of your street…you may be saving a life.
The organizations mentioned below focus on ending hunger, starvation and malnutrition in South Africa. If you feel compelled to join the battle against hunger, please click on any of them to offer your assistance.
You are also welcome to contact me directly if you know about a facility or family in your area that needs food or if you can contribute to any of the facilities around Pretoria I support. Click here to e-mail or find me on Social Media (click on buttons in sidebar).
STOP HUNGER IN SOUTH AFRICA!
Click on the links below to support the various organizations/campaigns.
* Add Hope
3. TSEGAY, Yared Teka, RUSARE, Masiiwa, MISTRY, Rashmi. 2014. Hidden Hunger in South Africa: The Faces of Hunger and Malnutrition in a Food-Secure Nation. [Web:] Oxfam.org. [Date of Access:] 15 August 2015