Poverty remains a massive challenge during Covid-19 lockdown
Durban - Child protection organisations say poverty and the inability of parents or guardians to feed their children has been a major concern during the lockdown to curb Covid-19.
Adeshini Naicker, acting director of Childline KZN, said the organisation has seen a 60% increase in calls related to poverty. She said it received an average of 10000 calls a month.
Naicker added that most of the recent callers were domestic workers and others who had been subjected to the no work, no pay policy.
“Childline KZN has started a grocery drive whereby people can drop off non-perishables at our office in order for us to supply our callers with a hamper,” she said.
Edith Kriel, executive director of Jelly Beanz, an organisation committed to helping abused and neglected children, said services to children and resources for families were not meeting their needs.
“Food distribution is hugely problematic, particularly in the more rural areas. The government departments are not able to manage this situation on their own and need to urgently join hands with non-profit organisations,” she said.
Suzanne Clulow, Child Advocacy programme manager for Children In Distress (CINDI), said food security was an overwhelming concern.
She said the organisation had received several queries regarding where people could access assistance.
Clulow said well organised co-ordination of food support to vulnerable families was key, with clearly communicated systems and procedures for service delivery.
“At the moment there is a lack of clarity around this in KZN and NGOs wishing to provide food support have faced challenges with regards to procedures and approval of essential services permits,” Clulow said.
Dr Coretta Jonah, project leader of the Child Nutrition Programme of research at the Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) at the University of the Western Cape, said research showed that a third of SA’s children lived below the food poverty line.
“Over 800000 children aged under 6 years old are living in households where children reportedly went hungry in 2018,” she said.
CoE-FS director Professor Julian May said if parents or caregivers lost their jobs, were unable to work or lost their markets because of the lockdown, food insecurity would rapidly follow.
“The impact of the lockdown on these children will be aggravated by any loss of jobs or livelihoods resulting from the measures to control Covid-19,” said May.
May explained that for young children, the nutritional shock that would follow would result in increased wasting and stunting (decreased weight and growth).
“These are known to have long-term effects on the health and education outcomes of children.” May said while the restrictions on movement were necessary it was important for government and all stakeholders to work together to ensure children were not endangered.
“Collaboration between government, community-based organisations and social protection agencies is needed to quickly mobilise resources targeted at those most in need,” said May.