More than 20% of South Africans have no money for food, survey finds

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More than 20% of South Africans have no money for food, according to a survey by the Human Sciences Research Council.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande on Sunday announced the results of the survey, which was conducted to find out the impact and awareness of the coronavirus amongst South Africans.

The survey was conducted on the #datafree Moya Messaging social media platform and reached 19 330  respondents.

According to the report, between 45% and 63% of respondents reported that the lockdown would make it difficult to pay bills, debts, earn income, feed their families and keep their jobs. 

Just under a quarter (24%) of respondents had no money to buy food. More than half (55%) of informal settlement residents had no money for food. About two-thirds of residents from townships also had no money for food.

The report recommended that government and society as a whole should acknowledge that some communities are struggling and people may have no money to buy food.  

“A social compact must be created with communities and the public and private sector, to ensure sustainable financial and social relief. This should include promoting inter-generational cohesion and sustainable food banks at the level of the district,” the report says.

On Tuesday President Cyril Ramaphosa said government recognised that its capacity for food distribution had not met the huge demand in recent weeks, and the Department of Social Development working with NGOs and community organisations would distribute 250 000 food parcels in the next fortnight.

“We have recognised that the food distribution capacity of government is not adequate to meet the huge need that has arisen since the start of the epidemic. The South African Social Security Agency – Sassa – will within days implement a technology-based solution to roll out food assistance at scale through vouchers and cash transfers to ensure that help reaches those who need it faster and more efficiently.

“In addition, to fill the immediate need, the Department of Social Development has partnered with the Solidarity Fund, NGOs and community-based organisations to distribute 250,000 food parcels across the country over the next two weeks.”

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