[imagesource: Gallo Images / ER Lombard]
South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens have been struggling with a food crisis for far longer than our national lockdown has been in place, but the scale of the crisis has escalated in recent weeks.
At present, it is estimated that 34% of South Africans have gone to bed hungry during lockdown, and the need for effective food relief parcel delivery has never been more pressing.
Based on a survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg, that 34% figure was up from 28% the week before.
The Daily Maverick’s Greg Nicolson spoke with Gift of the Givers director Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, and his message was a simple one:
He saw an elderly woman break down and sob as she received a food parcel.
“It’s the norm,” Sooliman said.
“Every call, every social media message, all my toll-free lines, it’s only one thing: We need food.”
…“It’s just overwhelming,” said Sooliman on the need for help during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The pool of hunger has just gotten much bigger because of the economic catastrophe,” he added, noting that workers such as tradespersons and hospitality staff who normally survived month-to-month now need assistance.
There is no ‘win-win’ situation when it comes to easing lockdown measures and weighing up the loss of life that will follow. One concerned group of professionals, Pandemic Data and Analytics, says their study shows that “each week of continuing lockdown will, in the long run, cause more loss of life than the virus itself”.
Whatever your thoughts on how and when lockdown measures should be eased, the fact remains that our poorest citizens are in dire need of assistance:
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, FoodForward SA provided surplus food stock from large retailers to beneficiary organisations that would offer prepared meals to 255,000 individuals in centres across the country each month.
Over the last three weeks, it has increased the number of beneficiary organisations it works with from 670 to more than 900. Instead of providing prepared meals, those organisations are now distributing food parcels to 412,000 households, feeding over one million people, said Du Plessis.
“Before Covid-19 we already had a food crisis. It just wasn’t top of mind as it is during the lockdown.”
The same study by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg found that in informal settlements without a yard, as many as 46% of respondents had gone to bed hungry.
That number drops to 42% in backyard township rooms, and 40% in hostels or student residents.
You can read the rest of the Daily Maverick article here.
There have been many videos circulating on social media the past few days, showing Eastern Cape towns where safe physical distancing measures are not being implemented.
Here’s one example, from Lusikisiki:
— Dave_Mhatu (@DaveMhatu) May 6, 2020
Auntie Karen on Facebook might try and use this as an excuse to justify why she should be allowed to break lockdown regulations, but these are people queueing for SASSA grants, without which a family goes hungry.
You can read more about the red tape hampering food relief efforts here.
If you are interested in donating to FoodForward SA, you can find out more details here.
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