Register to comment and receive news in your inboxRegister or Log in

Turning the tables on hunger

By Alan Browde, CEO and founder of SA Harvest

Last week’s convergence of World Hunger Day and South Africa’s Election Day invites a critical examination of our nation’s battle against hunger. The days leading up to this important occasion buzzed with election fervour, but in the aftermath of the campaign promises and political posturing, let us not forget the stark realities faced by millions of South Africans, particularly our children and mothers, who bear the brunt of malnutrition and food insecurity.

The elections presented an opportunity – a chance for every South African to demand accountability and action on hunger. As we cast our votes, we did so for the voices that often go unheard – the mothers struggling to nourish their families, the children robbed of a healthy start in life. Let us now challenge our leaders to prioritise food security, to see hunger not as a statistic but as a national emergency demanding urgent, sustained attention.

The theme of World Hunger Day 2024, “Thriving Mothers. Thriving World.”, resonates deeply with the challenges we face. Adequate nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood is not just a matter of health but a fundamental right in our country. Shockingly, our recent realities demonstrate a betrayal of this obligation. South Africa’s children are suffering from malnutrition at alarming rates, with devastating consequences for their development and future. It is a grave injustice that in our resource-rich nation, children’s lives and their futures are compromised by preventable hunger-related illnesses.

The statistics speak volumes: over 15,000 children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition annually, with approximately 1,000 succumbing directly to its effects. According to a United Nations South Africa publication titled “The ‘slow violence’ of malnutrition in South Africa”, malnutrition contributes to a third of child deaths, with 27% of children under five stunted due to chronic nutritional deprivation. These are not just numbers but young lives denied their full potential due to systemic failures.

It is devastating to witness the silent violence of hunger persisting amidst our nation’s wealth and potential. Our government’s duty to ensure the right to food and nutrition is enshrined in our Constitution, yet millions remain food insecure. With the elections behind us, let us hold our leaders accountable for ending this crisis, which they could do over a relatively short time, were they even half committed to the task. The future of our children and our land is not assured by political rhetoric – it demands immediate and appropriate action.

At SA Harvest, our mission to end the injustice of hunger has been boosted not only by the dedication of our donors, beneficiaries and team but also by strategic partnerships that empower action. These collaborations have amplified our impact, helping us to rescue and deliver more than 57 million meals to those most in need across the country since October 2019. Together, we’ve made tangible strides in alleviating hunger.

In this journey, our partnerships with benefactors and donors have been instrumental. Together, we’ve rescued 17 million kilograms of surplus food, reducing waste and nourishing communities. However, our work is far from done. With a new coalition government in power, we must advocate for policies that prioritise food security and ensure no child goes to sleep hungry.

Let us all demand a future where every mother and child can thrive, where hunger is not the devastation of a society but a distant memory. Together, we can build a South Africa where no child suffers the slow violence of malnutrition – a country where thriving mothers nurture a thriving nation.

Leave a Reply

BEE OF THE WEEK