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Nov 12
Food insecurity: The problem persists

By: Lunga Memela (Communication Engagement Lead)

Just like cattle need to graze; birds to fly; the sun to shine; as well as jets need their fuel, service and safety measures; so do humans need to feed their bodies and souls. The basic human right of sustaining mental and physical wellness through the supply of regular nutritious meals in order to perform optimally is not, unfortunately, possible for a significant segment of the world's population.

The National Department of Health and the African continent at large, observes Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day and uses the opportunity to remind us that many communities still live below the poverty line. The geographical, psycho-social, psycho-physical and psycho-economic disparities presented by food (in)security amongst some of the communities situated in the most marginalised contexts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, spells hunger! The written word and philanthropy can draw attention to this other "pandemic", but witnessing it with the naked eye really brings home the plight of many right on our door step.

It was a humble gesture for Health Systems Trust (HST) employees to reach out on 30 October to commemorate Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day by donating food parcels – mainly toiletries, non-perishable goods, face masks and hand sanitisers – to Uthando Home-Based Care (a non-profit organisation based in Verulam, eThekwini) for distribution amongst families in desperate need of food during the COVID-19 pandemic that has left many without. ​

HST was thankful to its Stakeholder Engagement affiliate, Simamisa Mkhize, for his help with identifying an entity that would be suitable to distribute its donated goods fairly on this day.  On the day HST delivered the donation it became clear that the charity and community it serves still needs so much, as do many others. If you are keen to help them please contact

It was Beth Bechdol, the Deputy Director-General of the United Nations' (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who said these words in her opening remarks of a recent podcast

​"The number of food insecure people in the world prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was already surprisingly high, and unfortunately, trends in trying to eliminate hunger around the world and in the most vulnerable countries are not good trends… We've got more work to do! And so, when you add the COVID-19 pandemic to that and add the economic implications: soaring unemployment rates, income losses, rising food costs – all of these begin to jeopardise food access in both developed and developing countries."

FAO mentions in its article, Impact of COVID-19 on people's livelihoods, their health and our food systems, that the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year.

A report published by FAO in July 2020, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020: Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets, highlights that the burden of malnutrition in all its forms continues to be a challenge. The report complements the usual assessment of food security and nutrition with projections of what the world may look like in 2030, if trends of the last decade continue. The World Health Organization expanded on the matter, publishing a stimulating article headlined: As more go hungry and malnutrition persists, achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 in doubt, UN report warns.

As part of its 75th anniversary and the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN declared Goal 2 of these as #ZeroHunger. The biggest question is: Is the world on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030? The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

The reality is that no nation will thrive to reach its full potential until we open our hearts and take collective action to make a difference.

Why Global Citizens Should Care?

"Food insecurity is the state of not having reliable access to sufficient food, and is one of the leading causes of chronic hunger in Africa. The United Nations' Global Goal 2 calls for an end to world hunger, and also aims to achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture. This goal can only be obtained if Africa has reliable and consistent access to food. Join the movement and take action on this issue here."  

​HST remains committed to taking action to address the influence of the social determinants of health on the burden of disease


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