Women battle to support their families as food prices soar amid coronavirus pandemic
NPO, the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, found that the average price for a basket of food had increased by R65.67 over the past three weeks and by R252.75 over the past two months.
The basket included staples such as flour, maize meal and rice.
Julie Smith, the group’s researcher, said the price increase for families with a low income could be a huge financial shock for women who were the primary caregivers in the household.
Researchers spoke to women from Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg and rural towns in KwaZuluNatal.
“Women are concerned that May is going to be a very hard month with the projected job losses, the staggered return of workers to employment, the small top-ups on the grants, and the physical distancing at supermarkets restricting their strategy to shop for the cheapest prices across several supermarkets,” said Smith.
The lack of street sellers also affected women’s ability to haggle and check the quality of products.
Buying from supermarkets, said Smith, meant accepting the advertised price and still having to wait in the long queues experienced during lockdown.
Smith said there were cases where supermarkets had a shopping limit of 20 minutes, which made it a mad dash to get the goods.
It was not only food that was a problem, said Smith.
“Domestic and personal hygiene products are critical expenses for safe hygiene and overall health and well-being. These products compete with the food budget. Women tell us they are buying more Jik, bath soap, and green bar soap to try to protect themselves from Covid-19.
“It means that there is now even less money to buy food,” Smith said.