Promoting the UNISA Household Food Security Model in the Eastern Cape Province

Participation of households in food security immensely contributes towards addressing the poverty, unemployment, under-nutrition, and other socio-economic challenges faced by South Africans and can assist in reducing the current burden on the government in terms of payment of grants.

The Integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS) South Africa (Department of Agriculture, 2002) defines food security as the physical, social and economic access by all households at all times to adequate, safe and nutritious food and clean water to meet their dietary and food preferences for a healthy and productive life. According to Section 27 of the South African Constitution, every citizen has a right to access sufficient food and water. Bonti Ankomah (2001) explains that these definitions imply that either there will be ability by an individual to be self-sufficient in food production through own production, or there will be accessibility to markets and ability to purchase food items.

The Household Food Security (HFS) model offered by UNISA’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is an accredited NQF level 5 short learning programme. It aims at promoting small-scale and subsistence farming through equipping individuals who wish to become household food security facilitators and change agents, with skills that can be used to empower households within their communities through facilitating improved food security status, health and nutrition.

The HFS programme is at present being piloted in the Eastern Cape with the help and support of networks of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based-organisations (CBOs) and faith-based organisations (FBOs) running community development initiatives within communities. These organisations have helped in the recruiting and supporting of suitable students and have, in some instances, provided HFS programme promoters from within their own ranks. However, the model faces some challenges. One of these is that the Eastern Cape is widely spread hence it is difficult and expensive to monitor and support implementation of the model.

The impact of the model can be enhanced in both urban and rural areas, by linking it with local government’s ‘Integrated Development Plans’ (IDPs), and the programmes of the departments of; Human Settlements, Agriculture, Health, Education, and Social Development. All these departments have an element of food security in their programmes. The model could also use the Department of Health model of Community Health Care Workers who work directly in the communities, not at ward level but also supported by the clinics around them. In this case, the Department of Agriculture will be more visible and closer to the people through household food security facilitators. The municipalities should be directly involved and link this model to service delivery such as water, land and ownership issues.

- Artwel Chivhinge, Eastern Cape NGO Coalition.

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