The worsening spread of Covid and strict lockdown regulations have led to many job losses across the country. Charity organisations such as Rise Against Hunger Africa and Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity are therefore calling on government to reintroduce the special relief grant of R350 per month.
Rise Against Hunger Africa's Brian Nell says that due to increasing food prices, they have been receiving calls from people who are finding it difficult to get by. He also adds that the grant is not exactly sufficient.
Every day it's getting dire, getting worse, we get inundated with requests for food. Every day, people say they've lost their jobs or can only work a certain amount of hours a week. The grant itself, just doesn't have worth and covers really basic food items.
However, the main concern for the organisation is the impact that the current situation has on child nutrition as it forms part of their core program.
"I think from our perspective, our core program is around children between the ages of one and six because that is so critical during their developmental years to get nutritious meals and increasing prices for basic food items like vegetables are of great concern to us because for a child during these developmental years it has such long term effects."
The organisation's Mervyn Abrahams says that the lack of government intervention also tramples on the importance of human dignity.
"At the heart of the questions around hunger is human dignity. We are destroying people, people have to go begging for food and what that does to their children is horrific.
Currently, we have a situation where 30% of all boy children under the age of five are stunted and 25% of girl children under the age of five are stunted, now that a cognitive on their development and that has a direct impact on the workforce twenty to thirty years from now."
They also suggest that government intervention should come in the form of creating food security within communities through NGO's as well as corporate entities who are already involved in these initiatives by subsidising them, introducing food parcels and increasing the monthly stipend.
The R350 grant was first introduced in April 2020 and after many extensions, came to an end in April 2021.