According to the Daily Maverick, another 216 new cases of severe acute malnutrition were confirmed in the Eastern Cape’s biggest metro, where more than 16,000 families were left without aid because of a bureaucratic bungle by the provincial Department of Social Development.
In the article, the Daily Maverick warns that the impact of dire food shortages including a shortage of nutritious food in communities is however much larger.
The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Child Institute estimates that a staggering 48% of child hospital deaths here in South Africa are associated with moderate to severe acute malnutrition.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, one child died of complications from an E. coli infection and more than 30 fell ill after the municipal water was confirmed to be contaminated – but metro officials said it was more a case of the children not being able to access potable water, as the water supply was disconnected at the time that they fell ill.
This comes after the department of social development forfeited R67 million that was meant to assist those worse affected by poverty in the province.
During a sitting of the provincial legislature last week, members of the legislature were told that the department had been unable to spend the money, which was meant for families who were unable to meet basic needs.
“It is unfathomable and simply unacceptable that the department, under the leadership of MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, was unable to spend R67.076-million that was meant for the most vulnerable in our province,” Edmund van Vuuren, the Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson on social development said.
The UCT’s Child Institute in the report indicates that child hunger is expected to intensify in the coming months due to a decrease in the real value of the Child Support Grant (valued at R460 a month or R15 a day) which has failed to keep pace with food price inflation – and continues to fall way below the food poverty line.