In the May Household Affordability Index, the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group reported the average cost of the Household Food Basket at R4,609.89 – an increase of more than 11% compared to May 2021. More than half of the 44 foods in the food basket increased in price, with cooking oil leading the pack. The researchers note that the factors driving price increases, including the Russia/Ukraine conflict, more frequent climatic disasters and the continued strain of COVID-19, are unlikely to lessen in the coming months.
The rising costs of a basic food basket stand in stark contrast to current social protection programmes, and should be viewed alongside increasing, troubling reports on children dying of malnutrition.
As PMBEJD notes, “Year-on-year, the cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet has increased by R59,56 or 8%. The Child Support Grant has been increased by R20, from R460 to R480 per child. This is an increase of 4,3%. In May 2022, the Child Support Grant of R480 is 23% below the Food Poverty Line of R624, and 40% below the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet of R803,46. Annual increments do not close the gap between the actual cost of feeding a child a basic nutritious diet per month (on our data R480 vs R800), nor do the increments keep up with the actual inflationary increase on food. The reality is, that on R480, a mother has no chance to feed her child properly. The state has enough money to draw on so that all children can eat. No child needs to go hungry. No child needs to be malnourished. No child needs to be stunted. No child needs to die.”
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