Durban – Almost 800 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat and 98% of these live in developing countries.
And this, said The Hunger Project, was why World Hunger Day – its annual initiative observed on May 28 since 2011 – was so important.
“Chronic hunger is a silent symptom of poverty and social inequities such as child marriage, climate change, lack of women's empowerment, lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and lack of education and literacy,” it said on its website.
The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC) said 53% of the country did not have enough food. It’s estimated that 14 million people go to bed hungry each night in this country.
Director of Pietermaritzburg Community Social Action (Pacsa) Mervyn Abrahams – whose activist organisation tracks the monthly food inflation on 36 basic items – said in lower income households in KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the country, many people invested in staple food items like sugar, flour and maize meal, but did not have enough to invest in a diversity of food items to make their diets nutritionally complete.
“These foods fill the stomach but on their own do not provide much nutritional value.”
More than 20% of children from poorer households, he said, were stunted.
Their latest research determined that it would cost more than R3 200 to meet the nutritional and health needs of a household of five people each month.
But the median earnings, said Abrahams, for low-income households was R2 900.
He said one third of all South African households were food insecure.
Denis Hurley Centre director Raymond Perrier – whose organisation hosts a feeding scheme five days a week – said there was a “small increase” in the number of people who used the service in winter.
“We typically feed 300 people on each of those days. It’s not just about the provision of food, but about reaching out to them, giving them dignity.”
Meanwhile, chairperson and founder of charity organisation Gift of the Givers Imtiaz Sooliman in a statement on Sunday said the day overlapped with Ramadaan this year.
“(These days) appeal to the consciousness of those endowed with greater resources, to create in us a state of mindfulness that elicits from us a greater sense of mercy and compassion.”
His organisation, he said, tried at all times of the year to provide food and alleviate hunger, locally and internationally.
“In Ramadaan that effort increases exponentially.”