A CASE FOR THE POOR: COVID19 IMPACT, FOOD SECURITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

News outlets including CNBC Africa reported South Africa’s National Lockdown on the 27th of March 2020. The devastating impact of COVID 19 on global economies has not exempted Africa. The possibility of food shortages and increased spread of hunger is real and daunting.

CNBC Africa reports that “across the globe, many people are already facing dire humanitarian emergencies and the World food programme is putting in measures to ensure that Sub-Saharan Africa has enough food to sustain itself during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

How sufficient and sustainable are these measures?

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) has described the COVID 19 as a black swan phenomenon; unexpected and totally unpredictable.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 and measures announced to contain its spread has impacted all of us in almost every way imaginable. The outbreak is considered a “black swan” phenomenon: entirely unexpected, and completely unpredictable. There is increasing concern whether there will be sufficient food supplies at affordable prices for Southern Africa during and following the containment period.”

Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP)

How equipped is South Africa in dealing with the impact on the poor?

As many South Africans have been preparing for the lockdown in the last two weeks, those with the means to stock up immediately, have been seen all over grocery stores, filling up their grocery carts. Unfortunately, the majority of South Africans who live from hand to mouth with multiple family members they support. They can only wait until the end of the month to receive their salaries and social grants. 

What are the factors to consider in addressing Food Security during Lockdown?

We need to engage the critical factors that will influence the food and hunger levels in South Africa. Some of these include:

  • Poverty levels in South Africa
  • With unemployment already at 29% in South Africa, the impact of COVID 19 will significantly increase that number as more people will lose jobs, thus putting a greater burden on the state. 
  • South Africa was downgraded by the rating agency Moody’s, which will also have a significant impact on job losses. 
  • Unemployment amongst South Africa’s youth is already high, many of them lacking skills for the modern economy.

During the implementation of the lockdown, we have witnessed wide gaps in how the government communicates messages to its citizens. As a result, many rural farmers have been left stranded and forced to shut down their operations without full knowledge on how their businesses could still operate under the lockdown. 

We need to consider the impact of lockdown in Africa on:

  • Food accessibility 
  • Value chain disruption

Join the conversation! At lesego.org, we engage critical issues about the African continent especially in the areas of Agriculture and leadership. We lend a voice to advocacy for rural farmers in South Africa and the African continent as a whole. Get a free guide to establishing cooperatives for Agripreneurs. You can help raise awareness by sharing this post and joining the conversation by leaving a comment. Contact Lesego for speaking and training engagements.

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