According to the World Food Programme, 811 million people across the globe still go to bed on an empty every night and one in three people suffer from some form of malnutrition. In South Africa, at least 3 million children hungry according to Stats SA. Andra Nel, CSI Manager at KFC South Africa asks, how can anyone afford to stand on the sidelines and not do anything?
In 2021, the plight of hunger has been escalated by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the escalating effects of climate change. These challenges have had a drastic impact particularly on communities living below the poverty line.
Oxfam has identified South Africa as an emerging hunger spot. The hunger crisis in the country, amid a pandemic, has had a significant impact on the socio-economic development of communities. The inequality that is driven by unemployment and increasing poverty levels are hindering the country’s goal to achieve ‘zero-hunger’.
But that doesn’t mean private and public organisations should stop their collective effort to remedy the crisis. It just needs commitment, transparency and accountability from all sides in order for us to achieve tangible results.
Together we can
Combating hunger requires the participation of multiple stakeholders from government intuitions, the private and civil society. There has been some evidence of increased short-term investment from multistakeholder cooperation, especially during crises such as Covid-19 pandemic and during the civil unrest that occurred in July.
School feeding schemes by government, non-profit organisations and corporates are an immediate response to child hunger but more needs to be done to ensure food security for the long term.
In South Africa, poor households have limited access to good quality foods and rely heavily on small, inexpensive processed foods, that are high in sugar and salt and low in nutritional value further increasing the risk of malnutrition.
In terms of government efforts, the activation of the National Food and Nutrition Council as legislated on the Integrated Food and Nutrition Policy, 2014 would be a crucial step in addressing the hunger crisis in SA. Implementing the set of proven interventions for maternal and child nutrition as prescribed by World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition Movement would also make a significant impact on SA’s quest to eradicate hunger.
Fighting hunger, poverty and malnutrition in SA is not impossible, with the implementation of these policies on a larger scale and multistakeholder involvement, SA may be well on its way to achieving this sustainable development goal.
Hope is a powerful force
The state of child hunger in SA requires the efforts of all members of society. From the public and private sectors to ordinary South Africans, we all have a role to play to ensure that children have access to basic needs that will allow them to live healthy lives.
By donating R2 every time customers make an order, over 140 organisations across all 9 provinces can provide healthy meals to children. Through the Add Hope campaign, we have, over the past 12 years, grown to more than 2,200 feeding centres are supplying nutritious meals across South Africa. Since the start of Add Hope, KFC has raised more than R811-million to date from customer donations and KFC-led donations combined. Today the programme provides nutritious meals to over 150 000 children daily.
Our ecosystem of NPO partners enables Add Hope to reach thousands of children, even in the most remote areas in South Africa, every day.
Take for example the story of Tshepo* (not his real name) who was under his grandfather’s guardianship. The family faced food scarcity and the upkeep for him, and his two older brothers was a challenge. One of our NPO partners, Bona Lesedi Women and Child Care Centre, managed to intervene and speak to his grandfather so that Kgosi can get an education. With the help of a social worker, an ECD Centre was gracious enough to accept him at the school for free. Today, Kgosi is a happy and healthy 9-year-old who dreams of becoming a policeman when he grows.
Through Bona Lesedi, KFC Add Hope assists 30 families with food parcels and clothes donated to the poor of the poorest at the rural area at Hekpoort families, and underprivileged children within Munsieville. The organisation feeds 120 children with morning breakfast before class starts and with food after school. This nurturing helps the children become more committed with their schoolwork allowing them to excel in their studies.
For many South Africans, hope is a powerful force. During the recent looting, many of us came together to help each other. Organisations came together to ensure that the hungry are fed. This type of Ubuntu is special to our country and to our people and is the driving force that will propel us forward.
If our country is to eradicate hunger and prosper, let us not dwell on the challenges but rather power up with hope to rebuild, re-energise and re-imagine the South Africa we all know we can create.