n South African Medical Journal - Food insecurity in households in informal settlements in urban South Africa : forum - issues in public health

Volume 105, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Food insecurity in the urban poor is a major public health challenge. The Health, Environment and Development study assessed trends in food insecurity and food consumption over a period of 7 years in an informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa (SA). Annual cross-sectional surveys were conducted in the informal settlement (Hospital Hill). The degree of household food insecurity decreased significantly from 2006 (85%) to 2012 (70%). There was a spike in 2009 (91%), possibly owing to global food price increases. Childhood food insecurity followed the same trend as household food insecurity. During the first 3 study years, consumption of protein, vegetables and fruit decreased by 10 - 20%, but had returned to previous levels by 2012. In this study, although declining, food insecurity remains unacceptably high. Hunger relief and poverty alleviation need to be more aggressively implemented in order to improve the quality of life in poor urban communities in SA.

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