To commemorate World Food Day (celebrated on the 16th of October), Tongaat Hulett and the eThekwini Municipality have joined forces to help child-headed families in Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal.World Food Day provides an occasion to highlight the plight of 870 million undernourished people in the world. Most of them live in rural areas where their main source of income is agriculture.
According to Tongaat Hulett, the organisers of World Food Day launched a call for all social partners and governments to support the most vulnerable communities and make the food systems more sustainable as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc globally.
This included the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries where Minister, Thoko Didiza distributed some of the parcels.
With the assistance of community-based development workers, they were able to identify children and youth from challenging environments and who also those with limited access to adequate sanitation and water. They also found out that many of the children and youth were dependent on social grants as well as money sent by their family members or relatives working outside their communities.
Nkonzo Mhlongo, Corporate Affairs Executive of Tongaat Hulett Sugar, said their decision to partner with eThekwini Municipality was to ensure there was no duplication of effort and that their interventions targeted the poorest of the poor.“This partnership will enable Tongaat Hulett to respond effectively to the significant social challenges in the eThekwini area. It has also enabled us to create awareness programmes and support initiatives centred around the prevention of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the local communities and our employees,” she said.
eThekwini Municipality’s Sam Maphumulo said “Covid-19 has imposed a huge burden on communities, particularly child-headed households and low-income families, making them vulnerable to household food insecurity. World Food Day has given the Municipality the opportunity to partner with companies such as Tongaat Hulett in order to support vulnerable children and households,” said Maphumulo.
One of the beneficiaries of the food hampers said he was responsible for five children ranging from 4 to 15 years following his mother’s death in 2018. As the eldest child, he had to drop out of school and take care of his siblings. Although his extended family is around, they also have their own struggles and are unable to help, he said.
“They are all unemployed and certainly could not afford an additional six mouths to feed. I, therefore, took the decision to leave school in Grade 10 to support my siblings, which I do through fishing and piecemeal jobs. The support from Tongaat Hulett and eThekwini Municipality will take away the stress of wondering where our next meal is going to come from,” he said.