This is part three of a 3-part blog on food security in the time of COVID-19 and climate change. We are juxtaposing recent developments against our rich treasure of scenarios that have created a vision for South Africa throughout the journey towards and into democracy. These scenarios remind us of the best possible dreams for the country and could give hope for the future. They provide a common thread that could pull us through the current challenges. At the same time the scenarios we have reviewed also provide valuable insights into what could prevent South Africa from taking the best possible course.
- View part one: The Challenge of Food Security Amidst COVID-19 and Climate Change
- View part two: A Reflection on the South African Dream and the Looming Nightmare of Food Insecurity
While the government has made some worthy efforts to address issues of food security, the inability to find creative solutions to ensure that the NSNP continues to reach its usual beneficiaries, cannot be regarded as a success. Section 27 has proposed a number of creative solutions in this regard, and have expressed their concern about the apparent lack of collaboration between the DBE and DSD: “We have noted that these current interventions are being funded through DSD’s Disaster Relief fund and Social Relief fund, at R900 million and R500 million, respectively. While we welcome the utilisation of DSD funds, we are baffled as to why the DBE is not contributing funds from the NSNP towards these efforts.”
Who are the heroes?
Perhaps the lack of coordination and the inability to find swift and creative solutions is not so surprising after all. In our work as evaluators of government programmes, a recurring theme, over many years and across many sectors is indeed, the inability of the government to find joint, integrated solutions. This needs to change. There will in future simply not be enough resources to continue to work in silos.
The real heroes in the current food crisis are those who do not necessarily have power, status or money. The heroes are those who kept on working tirelessly and with dedication despite their own fears and needs. Existing feeding schemes and soup kitchens had to deal with increased demand, others pivoted on the crisis and reinvented themselves into new terrain of providing food packages to hundreds of recipients in record time.
The heroes are the NGOs, the churches, the women at the soup kitchens who kept on giving even though they did not know if they had enough to feed all who would turn up. The heroes are the young men and women who are investing their time in food gardens to ensure that there is enough to keep soup kitchens and feeding schemes running on a sustainable basis. What sets them apart is that they are doing all they can, often with limited means, and they keep on doing it every day, without any concern for “what is in it for me”. Government, and all political parties should take a leaf out of the book of these ordinary citizens, who made the difference in these difficult times, who stepped up to ensure that less children go to bed hungry, who made sure that those in dire straits can cling on to hope, and perhaps some dreams.
We showcase some of these heroes here:
Tsepo Sejosengeo is a 26-year-old South African who has committed to serving his community during a challenging time. Tsepo head’s up an organization called Ukwazana Lwethu Youth Development that is based in Khayelitsha. He channelled his efforts into helping his community, including opening a soup kitchen, which relies on the generosity of donors
The Bonteheuwel Development Forum has been working tirelessly for the past four months, putting their hearts and souls into delivering essential food relief in the Bonteheuwel community. Co-ordinated by Henrietta Abrahams, the group of volunteers deliver food to 17 blocks in the community. This effort of 34 feeding schemes manages to feed approximately 20,400+ people per week.
Souper Troopers supports 150+ regular feeding schemes which range from existing non-profits who were working in the area before the virus hit. There are thousands of heroes, from many communities and organisations, working tirelessly every day to feed people in the battle against hunger.
Climate change will not wait for Coronavirus to disappear
The food security issues that are magnified during this crisis is a reminder that there is no time to waste to get ready for the food security challenges that are expected due to climate change. Sub-Saharan Africa will bear the brunt of these challenges, and we should not think that climate change is politely waiting in the wings for the Coronavirus to disappear. Climate change will challenge food security, and it is creeping up on the world slowly, but surely and relentlessly.
Coronavirus has shown the world how dangerous it is to underestimate a threat when it is not yet tangible. It has also demonstrated what an avalanche caused by catalytic impact looks like. Hopefully, the current challenges will propel our government to take the lead to enable all actors in society to play their role, to work towards a common goal, which links up with the development world’s dream for a greener, fairer and more prosperous world.
By Fia van Rensburg