Food insecurity is a serious threat to South Africans

Food insecurity is a serious threat to South Africans
Image via Pixabay

The right to food: More than half of SA are at risk of starving

‘The right to food is not just a constitutional right– it’s a human right’. Despite this, more than half of South Africans are starving.

Food insecurity is a serious threat to South Africans

Food insecurity is a serious threat to South Africans
Image via Pixabay

Around 54% of people living in South Africa are at risk of going hungry. This startling statistic is a grim reflection of the dire food insecurity problem facing the country today.

Every South African – regardless of race, religion, or gender – has the constitutional right to food. However, there is a stark contrast in people’s ability to access food.

Economist Amartya Sen put it best when he said, “food insecurity is not triggered by less production of food, but rather the inability of some to afford the available food on the markets”.

For perspective, food insecurity is defined as not having physical, social or economic access to sufficient food that meets dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

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Hunger not only threatens people’s ability to live healthy, productive lives, but also reduces their capacity to contribute meaningfully to the stability and growth of the national economy.

Studies have revealed how food insecurity can result in chronic diseases, leading to higher healthcare costs and greater reliance on public services. Therefore, in the long term, the cost of not urgently realizing the right to food is greater than the cost of doing so.

The disparity around access and distribution of food is a massive injustice. Questions of hunger are largely absent in South African politics. Although there have been attempts by government to guarantee basic nutrition for all, an analysis of the country’s measures to address the right to food reveals little meaningful implementation.


“The right to food is not just a constitutional right – it’s a human right,” says FoodForward SA (FFSA) Managing Director, Andy du Plessis. “Food insecurity often hinders access to healthy, nutritious meals. More than that, it’s a direct violation affecting those at risk of going hungry.”

In the fight against food insecurity, FFSA is targeting the world of excess or surplus food in the supply chain and redistributing this quality resources to the world of need.

Du Plessis notes, in South Africa, over 10 million tons of food is lost or wasted annually – this accounts for nearly one-third of all food produced in the country. He says that by correctly managing the surplus of food from farmers, manufacturers and retailers, FFSA can feed hundreds of thousands of people daily.

“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to develop a reliable and sustainable food distribution network,” he says. “Every day we support – and nourish – more than 875 000 people in disadvantaged communities around South Africa.”

FFSA ensures that at least 80% of the food recovered from the consumer goods supply chain is high in nutrients – helping to combat malnutrition and uphold human rights.

“The importance of food security cannot be overstated. It’s crucial to reduce the risk of hunger among all South Africans, so that we can equally lead healthy, productive lives,” ends Du Plessis.