Social scientists’ views on Covid-19 in Southern Africa (12)

Discott, A spaza shop in Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town, 27 May 2013, CC BY-SA 3.0  (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Lockdown and food insecurity in South Africa

This article by Jane Battersby highlights a crucial issue in times of lockdown: food supply. While the government has put in place relief measures to secure access to food for the most deprived (e. g. food distributions), the lockdown regulations have of course had a terrible impact on the purchasing capacity of millions throughout South Africa. The first regulations announced in April have also allowed a limited of food stores to remain open — mainly supermarkets —, leaving aside a whole range of small businesses and of informal food shops, such as the popular ‘spaza’ stores. However, “the informal sector provides food in affordable unit sizes, provides food on credit, sells fresh produce at lower costs than supermarket fresh produce and sells prepared foods appropriate for households that experience income, time, storage and energy poverty”. According to Battersby, all this demonstrates a clear anti-informality bias and the power of food business in the country.

Jane Battersby is an urban geographer “with an interest in all things food related”. She is currently he is currently the Research Coordinator of the ACC’s Consuming Urban Poverty Project, and is associated with the Hungry Cities Programme, and is the principal investigator of the Nourishing Spaces project.