A partnership between SA Harvest NPC and the Solidarity Fund of South Africa has delivered 343 000kg of food to the flood-ravaged areas of Port Shepstone, Richards Bay and eThekwini and surrounding communities, providing 4 764 families with enough food to sustain a family of six for two months.

The relief project took place throughout July 2022 into the first week of August and was initiated in response to the devastating floods in April that destroyed homes, roads and infrastructure, cutting residents off from basic services such as water, sewerage and access to food. It was reported that over 440 people lost their lives and more than 600 schools and 320 000 pupils were affected. The humanitarian crisis precipitated by the floods prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national state of disaster in the region.

The effects of the flooding continues to be felt by the most vulnerable communities in low lying areas who were the worst hit, with water supply still not restored in some areas. While much of the relief efforts were focused on the period immediately after the floods, SA Harvest continues with its crisis relief through the provision of nutritious food to its registered beneficiary organisations in the region and across the country.

Operating within its mandate to provide humanitarian relief for the benefit of victims of any disaster in South Africa, the Solidarity Fund granted SA Harvest R5 million to assist displaced families in the areas of Port Shepstone, Richards Bay and eThekwini. Recognising SA Harvest’s logistical strength and existing infrastructure, as well as its capabilities in delivering relief during periods of crisis, it was selected as the Solidarity Fund’s fulfilment partner for the grant.

“The floods that have affected Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape will inevitably have a long-term, devastating impact on the communities and individuals affected and required urgent and meaningful action. The Solidarity Fund shares the anxieties of those affected and selected to work alongside organisations such a SA Harvest who were already providing support services to communities in the province. The partnership provides the assurance that the funding allocated in response to the devastation reaches the intended recipients in an impactful and effective manner,” says Wendy Tlou, Solidarity Fund Executive Head for Humanitarian Support, Behaviour Change & Floods Response.

SA Harvest’s KZN operation encompasses a 90km area stretching from Richards Bay in the north to Amanzimtoti in the south and inland to Pietermaritzburg, delivering nutritious food rescued from across the food supply chain to 66 registered and vetted beneficiary organisations. Since its inception in October 2019, SA Harvest has rescued 8,3 million kilograms of food from going to waste, and has delivered 28 million meals to the people who need it most countrywide.

The Solidarity Fund relief initiative involved extensive logistical planning and coordination, including securing preferential pricing on the ingredients for the food parcels, securing safe and easily accessible spaces for displaced families to collect, establishing temporary warehouses in two of the three locations and working with established outreach partner organisations African Solidarity Campaign in Richards Bay and Ignite Revolution in Port Shepstone.  This ensured organised and appropriate disbursement of the food parcels.

Specifically designed to reach traditionally neglected areas including Hlabisa and Mtubatuba on the north coast and Gamalakhe and Margate in the south, the logistical arrangements involved planning for delivery into less accessible rural areas, involving many hours of daily travel during certain phases of the project.

The contents of the food parcel included 42kg of fresh vegetables with a long shelf life, 5kg of e’Pap, and 25kg of dry goods to ensure a nutritionally balanced basket of ingredients that would provide nourishing sustenance. The vegetables were procured primarily from small emerging farmers through SA Harvest’s long-term partnership with the OneFarm Share programme, an initiative by HelloChoice and Standard Bank. e’Pap was an equally important component of nutrition provided in the parcels, through its composition of wholegrain, precooked maize and soya beans with added vitamins, minerals and Omega fatty acids.

Detailed monitoring and evaluation was a requirement for the provision of the grant. “To ensure that we met the expectations of the Solidarity Fund in providing evidence of delivery to targeted beneficiaries, our tech team developed a mobile app that enabled us to record the details of the heads of households to whom the parcels were delivered. This technology is a significant benchmark for future monitoring and evaluation of projects involving grant funding, both for SA Harvest and the Solidarity Fund. It allows for a complete traceability of the food, from its point of origin to the recipient. This level of traceability has never been undertaken before,” says Ozzy Nel, COO of SA Harvest and manager of the project.

“This was a massive logistical undertaking for our operations team in Durban. Our normal operational model involves rescuing food from across the food supply chain and delivering it to vetted beneficiary organisations who turn the food into meals for those in need in their communities. This project involved far more direct, face-to-face contact with the recipients of the food, with each person’s details being recorded in the app,” says Nel.

Lindsay Hopkins, SA Harvest’s KZN operations manager, concludes, “Although logistically extremely challenging, the impact of this initiative is significant. We managed to get to areas that have never received assistance, where the people thought they had been forgotten, extending our reach to over 300km from our warehouse. Many of the people we reached were child-headed households and we were overwhelmed by the sentiment of people wanting to help themselves. Systemic intervention to assist people to create sustainable ways to feed themselves is desperately needed. It is in this aspect of SA Harvest’s mission to end hunger that a meaningful change can be effected.”

Interesting facts:

  • 4 764 families
  • 72 kg of food per family
  • 11 interlink trucks of food
  • 343 000kg in total
  • 1,143 million meals delivered (based on 343 000kg of food)