South Africa food price increases are damaging livelihoods of poorer populations

South Africa went into a national lockdown in March due to COVID-19, during the lockdown the price of a household food basket increased by 8.2%. An assessment by the country’s commission concluded that this increase and high margins were not justified by the changes in the suppliers operating costs. On top of food price increases the government placed the formal food sector at the centre of the food supply chain during the lockdown. Informal food vendors were restricted despite the fact they provide an important food source and livelihood for a vast proportion of the South African population.

The governments failure to enact specific legislation on food rights has resulted in disjointed food security policies. Job losses on the back of the pandemic have left the vulnerable facing hunger and small, poorly implemented cash grants have not improved the situation. To restrict food price rises more key food items need to be added to the current list which is subject to price monitoring. Additionally, more comprehensive data is needed to inform ongoing monitoring of food prices.

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