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What will it take to end hunger in South Africa?


I am often asked if SA Harvest’s mission to end hunger in South Africa is attainable. While it may seem impossible, we firmly believe that it is. Our approach is founded on three pillars: food rescue, systemic intervention, and technology. Technology underpins the other two pillars, while food rescue is the act of charity that helps to meet the immediate dire hunger situation in South Africa. Systemic intervention, however, is how SA Harvest plans to be part of the solution of ending hunger in South Africa.

To put the situation in context, around 20 million people in South Africa are severely food vulnerable. These individuals range from those who go to sleep hungry every night – this to our everlasting shame includes millions of children –  to those who run out of money for food during the month. If we were to feed these people three good meals a day for a year, we would need approximately 20 billion meals. Yet, at the same time, 10 million tonnes of food goes to waste. That’s 30 billion meals that could be used to help those in need. From food waste alone we could  make massive strides to ending hunger. Add to this some basic interventions like greater freedom for the millions of informal traders countrywide; improving the manner in which grants are disbursed and ensuring they actually get to the recipients; altering the VAT policy on basic foodstuffs and much more. The bottom line is that with more caring and the right interventions, ending hunger in South Africa  is not some wild fantasy but a very possible reality.    

Our strategy to be a part of this process has three parts: charity, systemic/sustainable intervention, and an appropriate, bespoke technology platform to support these actions. Charity, in the form of rescuing food that would have gone to waste and delivering it to vetted NGOs that feed people on a daily basis, is necessary to save lives. However, it, in itself is not the solution to ending hunger.Our systemic/sustainable intervention involves addressing the root causes of hunger. In South Africa, one of the major causes of hunger is lack of access for millions of South Africans to affordable nutritious food.. We believe that by implementing systemic changes to the basic structures of farming  logistics, manufacturing, and food economic policy, it is possible to both reduce food waste and increase local access to affordable food. 

For this to become a reality,  government intervention is necessary. On this important Human Rights Day we call on the government to convene a task force which would include SA Harvest and other relevant role players to work out what would be the best way to immediately implement the fulfillment of everyone’s basic human right to enough nutritious food  in South Africa.

At SA Harvest, we are committed to ending hunger in South Africa. We believe that it is possible to achieve this through a combination of charity, systemic intervention, and government intervention. Our ultimate goal is to create a South Africa where there is no need for charity, and where every person has access to the nutritious food they need to thrive. We will continue to work towards this goal until we succeed, and we will not stop until every person in South Africa has access to the food they need to thrive.

By: Alan Browde, CEO & Founder of SA Harvest
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