19 June 2014
South African households’ access to food has improved dramatically since 2002, although it has remained more or less static since 2011, according to Statistics South Africa’s latest General Household Survey.
Conducted annually since 2002, the survey measures changes in the living conditions of South African households, including access to services and amenities including housing, water, electricity, food, health care and education.
According to the 2013 survey, released on Wednesday, the percentage of households that experienced hunger dropped by more than half, from 23.8% to 11.4%, between 2002 and 2013, while the proportion of individuals that experienced hunger fell from 29.3% to 13.4%.
However, the figures are more or less static between 2011 (11.7% for household hunger, 13.1% for individual hunger) and 2013 (11.4% and 13.4% respectively).
A separate, more complex measure of access to food, the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale – which asks households about modifications they make in their diet because of limited available food sources – was added to the survey in 2010.
According to this measure, the percentage of households with inadequate access to food dropped slightly, from 23.9% to 23.1%, between 2010 and 2013, while the percentage of individuals with inadequate access to food dropped from 28.6% to 26.0%.
According to the survey, difficulties with getting food in 2103 were worst in North West province, where 37.3% of households struggled, followed by the Northern Cape (31.7%), Eastern Cape (29.4%) and Mpumalanga (29.4%).
The survey also showed that almost one-fifth of households in the country were involved in cultivating crops or raising livestock in 2013 – the great majority (87.8%) in backyard gardens rather than on farmland (14.2%).
Of these households, the survey found, more than three-quarters (76.9%) were farming for an additional source of food.
Of all the households involved with agriculture, 51.7% cultivated grains, 45.2% grew fruit and vegetables, 40.8% farmed poultry, and 51.5% also raised livestock.