‘Hungry, scared people prone to acts of violence’
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Cape Town - When one’s need for water, food and shelter isn’t met it can be catastrophic for all, according to the Institute for Security Studies.
Chandré Gould, a senior researcher in the Insitute’s Justice and Violence Prevention Programme, said food insecurity and violence are close companions - a connection highlighted in South Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
“Hunger, uncertainty, fear and a legacy of unfairness interacted in a toxic mix leading to public violence and anger,” Gould said.
“Hunger wasn’t caused by the spread of Covid-19 but measures to contain the virus have exacerbated a long-term pandemic of inequality
The South African Demographic and Health Survey 2016 indicated the physical growth of 27% of children aged young than five in the country was stunted due to malnutrition,
“Nutrition is critical to educational achievement and success in the job market. So failing to ensure all people in South African have enough nutritious food has devastating consequences for our development as a nation,” Gould said.
Fellow researcher Sello Hatang said personal safety and national development were mutually dependent, and hunger was one of a cluster of social problems: “Covid-19 has laid this prevailing reality bare.”
Hatang said the pandemic has presented an opportunity to tackle hunger with food security now high on the agenda for business, NGOs and donors.
A lack of reliable information as well as knowing an exact number of those needing food relief are challenges, he added.
“Another is high food costs. While the price of basic goods has risen
only marginally since March, low-income households face higher prices because lockdown has restricted their ability to buy from informal traders, or shop around.”
Hatang said there were examples of well-organised programmes in low-
income communities in the province helping to feed as many as 20000 residents daily since the start of the lockdown.
“The Bonteheuwel Development Forum in the Western Cape is organised at street level, has a soup kitchen on all 17 blocks in Bonteheuwel, and is establishing community food gardens,” he added.