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SASSA Grant Payment Falls Short in Tackling Child Hunger Crisis

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SASSA Grant Payment Falls Short in Tackling Child Hunger Crisis

 SASSA Grant Payment Falls Short in Tackling Child Hunger Crisis. In South Africa, the Child Support Grant (CSG) stands at a monthly payment of R510. However, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) argues that this amount is woefully inadequate to prevent the alarming rise of hunger and malnutrition among children, particularly in the Eastern Cape. The situation has prompted a call for urgent government intervention to address the severe acute malnutrition crisis affecting the region.

SAHRC Warning and Urgent Call for Action

The SAHRC, through Dr. Eileene Carter, the head of the SAHRC in the Eastern Cape, has issued a stern warning about the dire situation. The commission emphasizes the need for an immediate increase in government social support, advocating for higher grants and additional funding for school nutrition programs. This call comes in response to the findings of an SAHRC inquiry in 2022, which underscored the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition in the Eastern Cape, primarily stemming from inadequate access to food for children.

Severe Acute Malnutrition

 Severe acute malnutrition is a grave medical condition characterized by a profound deficiency of essential nutrients, including macronutrients like proteins, calories, and micronutrients. This condition arises when children endure an extended period without receiving a sufficient amount of necessary nutrients, with long-term consequences on their health and development.

Children Going to School Hungry

According to Jonas Sibanyoni, Commissioner of the SAHRC, children are attending school on empty stomachs. Despite the school nutrition program providing some relief during school days, weekends and holidays leave many children without adequate nourishment, exacerbating the malnutrition crisis.

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Urgent Plea for Increased Child Support Grant

Dr. Carter stresses the urgency of decisive action to combat severe acute malnutrition in the Eastern Cape. The SAHRC advocates for an increase in the value of the Child Support Grant, currently set at R510, which was raised by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in 2023. However, this amount falls below the established food poverty line of R760, prompting concerns from the SAHRC about the government’s response to the crisis.

Is it a State of Disaster?

Given the alarming stunting rate of 25% within the province and the widespread occurrence of child deaths due to hunger, Dr. Carter suggests the possibility of declaring a state of disaster. The SAHRC believes that the deaths of children due to hunger warrant such a declaration, highlighting the severity of the crisis.

Challenging the Notion of Food Scarcity

Dr. Carter challenges the misconception that South Africa is a food-scarce country. Instead, she points to underspending of available funds and massive food wastage as the root causes. To address this, the SAHRC recommends the creation of a war room on hunger and increased collaboration among stakeholders to ensure more efficient resource utilization.

Long-term Consequences of Stunting

Dr. Carter underscores the long-term consequences of stunting, emphasizing its detrimental impact on optimal child development and the potential ramifications for the future of malnourished children.

Eastern Cape Government Response

While acknowledging persistently high levels of malnutrition, the Eastern Cape government notes a decrease in the fatality rate due to severe acute malnutrition. They attribute this improvement to increased government spending, exceeding R1 billion, to provide the CSG to nearly 2 million children, including Care Dependency and Foster Care Grants. The government emphasizes the importance of collective responsibility across various sectors to effectively combat child hunger, implementing several programs to address the crisis.

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