The Centre – hosted by the University of the Western Cape and co-hosted by the University of Pretoria – is a virtual organisation that brings together the expertise of numerous South African and international institutions and over 100 researchers across various disciplines. It is the first DST-NRF Centre of Excellence to be hosted at a historically black university.
With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the shortcomings of the national and global food systems, the 2020 Food Dialogues came at an opportune time; bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health and economic consequences of the virus and their mitigation. This report weaves together common threads from the wide range of speakers, topics, themes, and talks. It aims to be a resource that others can draw upon for guidance in shaping policies, activism, projects, and programmes to make a difference in our food system.
The right to food in South Africa is recognised and guaranteed in various laws at the international regional and national level. Access to adequate food is a serious challenge across the globe, leading to hunger and malnutrition. Currently, 1 in 8 people worldwide go hungry every day. In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the second of which is to end hunger by 2030 and ensure that no one anywhere in the world is hungry or malnourished. Although South Africa is striving to meet the SDGs, hunger remains pervasive, with millions of people in the country suffering daily from hunger. Food insecurity is a reality for many, all the more so for vulnerable groups.
About 54% of South Africa’s township microenterprises trade in food or drink. More than two-thirds of these are grocery retail businesses in the form of spaza shops and smaller ‘house shops’. These are the predominant businesses within the ‘township economy’ and play an important role in food security, self-employment and community cohesion. In the last decade, the business of spaza shops (dedicated, signposted businesses with a range of foodstuffs and open five days per week or more) has undergone extensive change towards a new class of entrepreneurial traders – mostly foreign nationals. This change has meant that the sector has become increasingly controversial and associated with chauvinistic and xenophobic discourses targeting immigrants. While the nature, causes and extent of change...