TMG Think Tank for Sustainability

Hungry for Change: The Politics of Food in South Africa

TMG partners Heinrich Böll Foundation, Cape Town launch a new platform for conversations about food systems in South Africa

The world has never produced more food, yet hunger remains pervasive around the world. As Power Poverty Hunger, a report published last week by TMG and the Boell Foundation outlined, last year one in ten of the world's population went hungry. Yet while a global perspective is vital - and action at the global scale is needed if food systems are to be transformed - it is also important to understand hunger and malnutrition at multiple local scales.

In South Africa, while Covid-19 exacerbated hunger and food insecurity, it has long been the ‘norm’ for at least a fifth of households to run out of money for food before the month ended, to survive on nutritionally inadequate diets - so much so that more than 25% of the country’s children were considered stunted in 2016, according to Unicef South Africa. Covid-19 has roughly doubled the number of households suffering from hunger. Such outcomes are testament to persistent policy failures, extreme levels of social exclusion, injustice and power imbalances. They are also signs of how compromised collective resilience is.

In collaboration with TMG and Food Agency Cape Town, the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Cape Town office has launch 'Hungry for Change: The Politics of Food in South Africa,' a platform to feature conversations tackling the core structural faults in South African food systems. It will also feature offerings by those most affected by the failures of the food system, so their voices contribute to transformative visions, including urban farmers like those recently featured in the 'Farm to Fork' video series. These will seek to address how the limited access to food can be widened, how agency within the food system can be increased, and how to transform our food production models into ones that are sustainable and healthy.

Image: Vegkop Farm, Philippi Horticultural Area, Cape Town. Run by farmer and activist Nazeer Sonday, Vegkop is a demonstration and learning centre for regenerative farming methods. Photo: Nicky Elliot, all rights reserved.

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