Social grants have expanded dramatically and are now the biggest contributor to incomes in poor households – but more than one in five children are stunted and this figure has not fallen since the 1990s

Social Protection for Food Security (SARCHI)

Food insecurity remains a major policy challenge in South Africa. One in five children display stunted growth – an indicator of chronic malnutrition. Yet since South Africa’s democratic transition in 1994, social protection programmes – including social grants, the Expanded Public Works Programme and the National School Nutrition Programme – have increased dramatically. Given this context, this research programme aims to critically interrogate why South Africa’s comprehensive social protection system is not making a much more significant contribution to the eradication of food insecurity and hunger, and to identify how this contribution can be enhanced.

Hunger, social protection and shame

The right to food and the right to social protection

Impacts of social grants on child malnutrition

Professor Stephen Devereux

Related Articles & publications
School Feeding in South Africa: What we know, what we don’t know,...

This working paper draws on the proceedings of a ‘National Workshop on School Feeding in South Africa’, convened in November 2017 by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Workshop participants engaged with unresolved debates in school feeding, notably its ...

Food insecurity and famine

Devereux, S., 2018. Food insecurity and famine. In T. Binns, K. Lynch and E. Nel (eds). Handbook of African Development. Abingdon, Routledge. pp.183–201.

Why does malnutrition persist in South Africa despite social grants?

According to most subjective and self-reported indicators, food security in South Africa is improving over time.  However, objectively measured anthropometric indicators record only a marginal improvement in children’s nutrition status since the early 1990s. This is despite the introduction ...

Principal Investigators

Professor Stephen Devereux

Professor Stephen Devereux is a Research Fellow and founding Director of the ‘Centre for Social Protection’ at the Institute of...

Food Politics and Cultures: Humanities Approaches to Food

The POLITICS Programme explores human relationships to food, the power dynamics around food production and access and the meanings that food acquires in particular cultural and social contexts.

The Symbolic Construction of Food Consumption in the Context of Food Insecurity

The consumption of food is situated within the social construction of reality. Cultural and religious symbols inevitably construct and distort the ways in which food is selected, prepared and consumed.

Food Governance and Policy Reform

The POLICY programme facilitates dialogue between researchers, the community and policy makers to inform policy making and shape research.

Persistence of Child Malnutrition in South Africa

The CHILDREN programme examines trends, determinants and consequences of food insecurity for mothers and children in South Africa

Shelves, Baskets and Plates

The PLATES programme investigates the dietary intake of poor and vulnerable South Africans, and details the food environments that shape food preferences and choices.

Food safety hazards that affect food security and how these can be...

If food is not handled, stored, distributed and prepared correctly, it can become contaminated and no longer be fit for human consumption.

Innovation and Technology for Enterprise Development

Organisational and technological innovations of food systems can help maintain and improve livelihoods through enterprise development for food security.

Understanding the National and Global Food System

The SYSTEMS programme is concerned with the structure, dynamics and influences on the South African food system and how this is changing.