Analysis of the local understanding of food insecurity and the socio-economic causes of food insecurity in Ward three of the Jozini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.
Although food insecurity is a major problem in South African society, there is limited community level information on what constitutes it and related causative socio-economic factors. This study fills this information gap by analysing food insecurity in Ward 3 of Jozini Local Municipality in uMkhanyakude district in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Specifically, the study explored the local understanding of food security and its socio-economic causes. A qualitative study was conducted using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques through a four-day workshop, supplemented with stakeholder interviews. The techniques used were historical timeline, seasonal calendar, focus group discussions, transect walk, problem tree analysis, social and resource mapping and semi-structured interviews. A four-day workshop was conducted with 44 participants that included traditional leadership, adult men and women, and young members of the community. The people of Ward 3 of Jozini Municipality regarded food insecurity as hunger that resulted in many socio-economic effects such as collapse of household unity and stability that enhanced erosion of dignity among household members. Hunger was commonly associated with “not eating enough”. Other effects of hunger included household heads, especially men resorting to alcohol and drug abuse as a way of escaping from indignity. The youth were said to be involved in crime, prostitution and alcohol abuse. As result of hunger, sick people defaulted from taking treatment against tuberculosis and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Indicators of food secure households were access to funds, ownership of cattle, possession of arable land and access to water. Very irregular emissions of smoke from kitchens of food insecure households indicated that they had nothing to cook and eat. The people of Ward 3, Jozini revealed the choices made in the context of limited income to buy food. The choices included migration to urban areas in search of employment, women resorting to sex work, livelihoods activities such as gardening and craftwork. In the absence of an adult, many child headed households were said to be food insecure. The socio-economic factors causing food insecurity were poverty, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS pandemic, unemployment, illiteracy, low household food production, limited access to resources such as water and land. The HIV and AIDS pandemic exacerbated food insecurity at household level. Furthermore, poverty forced women into sex work which places them at high risk of contracting HIV and spreading it to their multiple partners. In addition, as a coping mechanism men committed crime such as poaching of animals from game reserves which further expose them to loss of livelihoods and food security options. The socio-economic factors contributing to food insecurity were so intertwined such that an integrated approach is recommended as the best approach for solving the compounded problems. Further local population should be engaged to define solutions to the problems. To enhance self-reliance and self-drive among communities, adult basic education training should be incorporated to reduce the high illiteracy rate. The local leaders should be engaged to bring the large tracts of land owned by old people into full utilisation. The non-government, government and institutions working in the area should strengthen and diversify livelihoods to promote livelihoods sustainability and enable communities to survive shocks by reducing asset poverty.
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