Vulnerability to hunger decreases: report

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pretoria - South African households' vulnerability to hunger has declined in the past 10 years from 23.8% to 11.5% in 2011, said Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

Releasing the General Household Survey- series report on food security and agriculture 2002 to 2011, Stats SA said the figure was still higher than the 10.5% recorded in 2007 before the advent of the financial crisis.

The report looks at South African households' access to food and their participation in agricultural production.

"Despite large declines in the vulnerability to hunger of South African households over the past decade, from 23.8% in 2002 to 11.5% in 2011, a large percentage of households (21.1%) continue to experience difficulty to access food," said the report released on Thursday.

According to the report inadequate access to food is particularly high in the North West at 32.9% and Northern Cape at 29.7%. Households in Limpopo which is a relatively poor province compared to others reported better access to food in comparison to any other province "and this includes wealthy provinces such as Gauteng and Western Cape."

The report confirmed that poor households that receive social grants are less likely to experience inadequate access to food.

Households in urban areas that are experiencing inadequate access to food are more likely to participate in agriculture than those with adequate access.

"Less than a quarter of households in South Africa are involved in agriculture including doing agriculture as a hobby. Nationally, more than 84% of households that are engaged in agriculture do so to produce extra food for the household while only 4.2% of households use agriculture to produce the majority of their food."

The report showed that 62.6% of South African households receive salaries or wages. "It is disconcerting to note that 44.8% of households are poor enough to qualify for and to receive social grants.

"It also showed that 56.6% of South African households receive salaries and wages as the main source of income while 22.3% list social grants as the main source of income. Social grants are the main source of income for 37.9% of households in Eastern Cape and 33.8% of households in Limpopo."

Although South Africa has largely maintained its ability to meet national food requirements and to provide food in sufficient quantities and of appropriate quality to consumers, large scale inequality and poverty mean that many households do not enjoy food security or adequate access to food.

"Many households live in a state of chronic poverty and find it difficult to deal with shocks such as unemployment and natural disasters," noted the report.