Shining a Light to Spur Action on Nutrition



The burden of malnutrition remains unsolved, particularly in low- and middle-income households representing the most vulnerable populations, where about an average of 30 – 35% of children are affected by stunting or wasting and almost twice as many suffer from deficiencies in vitamins and other essential micronutrients. At the same time, the number of children with overweight and obesity continues to rise, increasingly affecting children from poorer households. Together, these problems can be characterised as a triple burden of malnutrition facing South Africa’s children: undernutrition, in the form of stunting and wasting, widespread micronutrient deficiencies, and a growing prevalence of overweight and obesity. The backdrop of nutrition has changed/evolved, and new forces drive the nutrition situation of South Africa − globalisation, urbanisation, inequities, environmental crises, health epidemics and humanitarian emergencies − posing critical challenges to feeding children sustainably today and for generations to come.

The evolving nature of malnutrition demands a systems approach: one that addresses the inequities within the everyday structures and living conditions that hinder access to affordable and sustainable nutrition care. The response must also acknowledge the central role of nutrition-sensitive systems (health, education, food, water & sanitation and social protection) within their local context. Everyday circumstances, environment, social position, human capital, and social context all jointly determine a person’s likelihood of becoming malnourished. These society-wide effects are differential, usually disproportionately affecting poorer, more vulnerable or more service-excluded communities and populations.  It is no coincidence therefore that many forms of malnutrition affect the most socially and politically powerless groups: women, children, ethnic minorities and those less educated or living in poverty. Exposure to these inequity determinants and their impact on people’s well-being is often long-term and cumulative, rather than episodic.

In its 45 years of working, Operation Hunger has a history of positive action in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in South African communities. We’ve developed a systematic approach that delivers context-specific programming, which is informed by an analysis of the nutrition situation of children, adolescents and women in a given context (determinants, drivers and potential impact pathways) and the human and financial resources and partnerships available. The triangulation of needs, resources and partnerships allows Operation Hunger to identify the results areas and programmatic priorities that are relevant to a given context. This keeps OH nutrition programmes coherent across provinces,  regions and local programming contexts.


The Physical Health Indicators

Anaemia amongst women of productive age (15 to 49 years): 30.5% 

Low-birth weight: 14.2%

Infants aged (0-5 years) exclusively breastfed: 31.6%

Stunting (0-5 years)  21.4%

Child wasting (0-5 years) 3.4%

Prevalence of overweight (0-5 years)                                                           11.6%

Obesity in Women  (aged 18 years and over)     42.9%

Obesity in Men  (aged 18 years and over) 18.2%

Diabetes in women 14.3%

Diabetes  in men 11.3%

Average for all children R853,04

The upper-bound poverty line [UBPL] R1 417,00

The lower-bound poverty line [LBPL] R945,00

The food poverty line [FPL] R663,00

Cost of foods prioritised & bought first in Household Food Basket:

The average cost of the foods prioritised and bought first in the household food basket increased by R367,30 (15,7%) from R2 338,83 in January 2022 to R2 706,13 in January 2023. 

One in 10 South Africans goes hungry every day.

9.34 million people in South Africa (16% of the population analysed) faced high levels of acute food insecurity and required urgent action to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods. Of the nine provinces of South Africa, eight: Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, were classified as Stressed, and are in need of action for livelihood protection, while Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is classified in Crisis.

Household Affordability Index - Household bread-basket Index

The cost of the average household food basket increased by R516,40 (11,7%) from R4 401,02 in January 2022 to R4 917,42 in January 2023.

The average cost of a Household Food Basket: R4 917,42

Cost of a basic nutritious diet for a family per month

Household size with 4 members R3 343,97

Household size with 5 members R4 228,82

Household size with 7 members R5 845,42

The average cost of a basic nutritious diet for a child per month

Small child aged 3-9 years R748,47

Small child aged 10-13 years R816,66

Girl child aged 14-18 years R868,12

Boy child aged 14-18 years R978,90

get in touch, HELP SOUTH AFRICA

There are so many ways in which you can get involved to help contribute to fighting malnutrition in this beautiful country. We look forward to hearing from you.