A steady increase in food prices over the past three months has led to low income households finding it increasingly difficult to afford even the basic necessities.
The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PEJDG) programme co-ordinator Mervyn Abrahams said yesterday that their latest research on the household food basket showed that South Africans are spending more on food now than they did three months ago.
He said the food basket now costs R4 018, which is R161,89 more (a 4,2% increase) than three months ago.
“The plate is looking increasingly bad as pale starches displace all colour and protein. Health and well-being continue to deteriorate. Our health, education, economic and social outcomes continue to unravel,” he said.
The household food basket tracks 44 basic foods which women living in low-income households try to buy each month. Food prices are collected by women directly off the shelves of retailers which target the low-income market in Soweto and Alexandria, in Khayelitsha, in KwaMashu and Pietermaritzburg, amongst others.
Abrahams said the data continues to paint a picture of escalating hunger, debt, unemployment, violence, poverty and inequality.
Abrahams said PEJDG would suggest that it would be helpful if government switched its focus from creating jobs for a few to supporting livelihoods for the many by helping them create their own work, even at the level of survivalist activities in the short-term. “... the few thousand temporary jobs is not an appropriate response to the household affordability and economic crisis that more than 11,1 million South Africans face at household level,” Abrahams said.