The assessment of food insecurity in South Africa

OUTPUT TYPE: Research report- client
TITLE AUTHOR(S): D.Labadarios, Y.D.Davids, Z.Mciza, G.Weir-Smith
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 5815
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/4891

Download this report

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at


This paper aims to provide a synopsis of available national data sets which may contribute to our better understanding of how food security is conceptualised, defined and assessed within the context of South Africa. More specifically, the paper aims to show that a number of such data sets using different parameters have been used to inform policy and strategies aimed at addressing food insecurity (FI) in the country. Methodologically, the paper presents the various national surveys mostly in a tabular format, highlighting for example the key focus areas/indicators, target audiences, sample sizes, survey time intervals and primary sampling units. Of particular note is that each of these data sets addresses FI in a way that reflects the survey-specific terms of reference of a given national survey, and has its own unique methodological approach with varying strengths and weaknesses. In addition, each of these data sets measures different dimensions of FI. By the very nature of the various surveys included in this review - the National Food Consumption Surveys (NFCS), FI and Vulnerability Information Management System (FIVIMS; regional study), General Household Survey (GHS), Income and Expenditure Survey (IES), Labour Force Survey (LFS), Community Surveys and the national HIV/AIDS surveys the findings from these data sets differ. Comparing such findings, therefore, presents its own challenges and requires due care when attempting to define the prevalence of FI in the country. Based on the technical differences and/or similarities of the surveys and their key findings, the paper draws conclusions and makes recommendations on the need for a more focused and integrated approach to measure FI. Finally, and despite the potential for the better utilisation of the existing data sets, this review argues in favour of a more food securityspecific national survey approach.