Joint Publications

Local food geographies: The nature and extent of food insecurity in South Africa

Published 24 August 2016, by Godfrey Tawodzera

Publication: PLAAS Working Paper 37

Food insecurity is a challenge for most countries in the Global South. South Africa is no exception – a significant proportion of its population still remains in poverty and is therefore vulnerable to food insecurity. This paper argues that although South Africa is food secure at national level, such security is only true of caloric and not nutrient requirements. A section of the country still struggles to access food and survives on the margins – typified by the existence of malnutrition on one hand and on the other hand, the consumption of inappropriate foods leading to obesity. Poverty and unemployment are the major drivers of this insecurity and these should be addressed if the country aims to achieve food security for disparate sections of the South African society. But how are affected households and individuals coping with threats to food security? The paper shows that poor households in the country adopt a range of strategies for survival, such as borrowing from micro-lenders, substituting foods with cheaper ones, and disposing off assets. In conclusion, the paper points out that it is in South Africa’s power to prioritise food security through various instruments as laid out in the country’s food security strategy.

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