Below are answers to frequently asked questions about Food Security and Education, and how you can support Isipho and the people of iNzinga.
Food Security Facts:
- The definition of Food Security is the assurance that individuals, households, communities and nations have access to enough quality and safe food at all times.
- Food insecurity is the absence of food security and is characterized by the presence of hunger, starvation, malnutrition and/or fear or worry about facing food shortages.
- Food insecurity is a complex societal issue that requires urgent, practical solutions and appropriate, targeted policies and interventions. (From the University of KwaZulu Natal African Centre for Food Security)
Why is there so little Food Security in South Africa, and in particular iNzinga?
- Because more than 80% of the population were restricted to less than 13% of the land under apartheid, most black farmland (so-called homelands) was severely overused, leading to soil erosion and low productivity. As a result, many black farm families were supported by at least one person engaged in non-agricultural employment, to compliment their livelihoods. Increasingly poor subsistence farmers cannot replace gardening equipment, retain stores for seeds the following year, lose adult gardeners (and gardening knowledge) when parents die of AIDS, and therefore rely more and more on purchased food and are therefore vulnerable to food inflation. (Source: AIDC)
- Food makes up such a high share of spending by the poor that rapid inflation in food prices has a devastating impact on living standards as well as on the efficiency of the economy as a whole. More than two thirds of the most poor households are located in rural areas and more than half have members who are pensioners and whose main supporters are women. They spend more than 50 percent of their income on food. The burden of subsistence production weighs heavily on women, young people and very old people. As a result, wasting amongst children (a measure of chronic malnutrition) has increased dramatically in some provinces, Impendle (the larger municipality of which iNzinga is the most remote and poor part) is among the worst in all of South Africa.
- The devastating impact of AIDS – removing adults who can do the work of gardening, the knowledge about how to garden, the financial support to provide seeds and equipment and fencing – is the main reason that Africa is the only place in the world where malnourishment is getting worse. (The UN Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO])
What are the best ways to improve Food Security in poor rural areas like iNzinga?
- Provide the basic education and materials to start small family gardens. “A backyard garden four times the size of an ordinary door, can supply a household of six people with fresh vegetables for a year. By replanting and ensuring that the ground is fertilized well, the four-door garden can be farmed fruitfully for years.” (UN Habitat)
- Help start community gardens, usually based on school property. “In many villages around the world, school gardens are being used as a way to teach children about food and nutrition-related issues.” (FAO)
- School gardens can be an excellent additional source of proteins, vitamins and minerals, adding variety and nutrition to school meals. Apart from improving child nutrition, food security lessons are passed on when school garden practices are replicated at home or in community gardens.” (FAO) “Women have a strong sense of community and they are always helping others. These gardens are often established on school property because the principals are keen to become involved with the communities they live and work in and where they are daily confronted with the devastating effects of poverty. The national department of education formally supports community gardens on school grounds.” (S.A. Department of Education)
Why is such a high percentage of people in villages like iNzinga illiterate?
- “The lingering impact of apartheid is still having a huge impact. Forty years of Bantu education meant that in 1994 of our 30,000 schools, 70% didn’t have electricity; 60% didn’t have phones; 58% didn’t have sanitation and 42% didn’t have access to fresh water. Our pupil teacher ratio was 50:1. Almost more importantly, a fact which is much overlooked, is that the great majority of our teachers – and many of the 380,000 government school teachers – were victims of Bantu education themselves, in that they had been denied access to decent schooling infrastructure and in particular to a math and science education. The legacy of 40 years of Bantu Education cannot be eradicated in 12. There is a massive amount of work still to be done.” (S.A. Department of Education)
- AIDS is another major contributor. In 2007, eight (8) teachers died of AIDS every DAY in KwaZulu Natal (the province of which iNzinga is a part), absolutely devastating most classrooms and making consistency impossible.
- “KwaZulu-Natal Province is situated in one of the most educationally disadvantaged areas in all of South Africa. Add the impact of AIDS to the extreme poverty of the area and an estimated 800,000+ AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, and it is obvious that for education to be available to the rural OVC, support programs are a valuable assets.” (S.A. Department of Education)