South Africa is committed to end hunger and malnutrition in the country by providing school meals to over 9 million learners. Mr Thulani Masilela, the Facilitator for Outcome 2: A long and Healthy Life for all South Africans at the Presidency, emphasised the critical importance of the NSNP to the development agenda captured in the National Development Plan (NDP). Mr Masilela, who also convenes the National Food and Nutrition Security Coordination Committee, consisting of twelve government departments, including the DBE, NGOs and United Nations Agencies, delivered the keynote address during the recent NSNP Forum and Awards in Benoni.
The Committee has developed a Cabinet approved National Food and Nutrition Security Plan for South Africa (2018-2023). Despite the large number of food and nutrition programmes, malnutrition continues to grow. Mr Masilela shared concerning data from 2017 showing that 15,8% of households remain vulnerable to hunger, predominantly in the rural provinces of the North West (24,5%); the Northern Cape (20,5%) and the Eastern Cape (201,1%) and is much higher than the national average of 15,8%. Childhood stunting is also increasing from 24,5% in 2005 to 27% in 2016.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address during November 2017, said, “The school feeding programme alleviates short term hunger, and thus improves concentration in class. Furthermore, it has the potential of increasing attendance and enrolment of children in schools, resulting in improved retention. Through the implementation of the National Food and Nutrition Security Plan 2018-2023, it is anticipated that these milestones will be enhanced, in particular to ensure that the learners receive adequate, safe and nutritious meals”.
During the Forum, Chief Director for Care and Support in Schools, Dr Faith Kumalo, emphasised that for South Africa to succeed, Basic Education must succeed. The NSNP plays a critical role in enabling vulnerable children to learn, grow and succeed. Dr Khumalo requested delegates to continue to “champion the well-being of learners to make a difference”, in line with the Forum’s theme, and in responding to the President’s call, Thuma Mina.