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Pietermaritzburg  - A Pietermaritzburg based advocacy group has called on central government to re-look the current welfare system, saying there needs to be a better mechanism to cushion poor households against rising food prices. 

The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group warned that South Africa had reached a point of no return when it came to ensuring that poor households had access to nutritious food.

As South Africa joined the rest of the world in observing World Food Day on October 16, the advocacy group said the time had come for the government to avert a crisis.  

"If we are ever going to be bold and politically courageous, the time is now. The socio-economic crisis in which people live is becoming worse every day.  Millions of South African families are struggling to put food on the table. The line between hunger and anger is a thin one," said the Group's Mervyn Abrahams.

He added that re-thinking the welfare system as an economic stimulus could be a politically courageous act to stimulate a consumer-driven economic recovery; whilst allowing families to eat properly and begin to deal with the household affordability crisis. 

Abrahams pointed out that most people buy food in the supermarket and in a cash-based economy access to food required money.  

"The core pathway to get money – via a job – has become increasingly obstructed.  9.6 million South Africans are currently unemployed, of whom 8,6 million Black South Africans are currently unemployed," Abrahams said.

He warned that millions of South Africans were struggling to put food on the table and the consequences of such low levels of nutrition threatened to undermine the country's developmental outcomes.

"Poverty levels are now accelerating.  Inequality is deepening.  Millions of people will continue to struggle to put food on the table," he stressed.  

According to the advocacy group, food is core to all the country's developmental outcomes whether social, health, education and economic, all depend on healthy bodies that rely on nutritious food. 

"We need an intervention and we need it quickly if we are to avoid the dire consequences that such low levels of nutrition will bring by undermining everything we as a country wish to achieve," concluded Abrahams.  

African News Agency (ANA)