South African lawmakers on Friday voiced concern over food insecurity threatening 8 million people in the country as a result of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a huge threat to food security and a large proportion of the population could experience food insecurity as a result of the pandemic, said Mondli Gungubele, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development.
On Thursday, the committee was briefed by the national Department of Social Development and the provincial departments on the implementation of food distribution and progress on other programs responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The need to feed the South African people came out very strong in the meeting, Gungubele said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.
“If we are supposed to feed 14 million people and we are only able to feed just over 5 million, then it is a serious problem,” he said.
The committee heard that the demand for food far surpasses supply and the government’s ability to assist is limited, according to Gungubele.
Furthermore, the impact of COVID-19 on food security will be prolonged, he said.
The most worrying issue is food insecurity among the vulnerable, the chairperson said,
Gungubele appealed to the government to do everything in its power to ensure that children, the vulnerable and people in dire need have access to food.
“It is also important as a committee that we must express a strong appropriation to members of civil society who made contribution to feeding our nation, whether through donations or volunteering,” he said.
As of Thursday, South Africa’s has reported 118,375 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 6,579 cases recorded in the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day surge since early March, according to the latest official figures.
Meanwhile, 87 new deaths were reported, bringing the toll to 2,292.