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Skweyiya: Launch of Food Emergency Scheme (07/03/2003)

7th March 2003

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Date: 07/03/2003
Source: Ministry of Social Development
Title: Skweyiya: Launch of Food Emergency Scheme


SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, DR ZST SKWEYIYA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE NATIONAL LAUNCH OF THE FOOD EMERGENCY SCHEME, Limpopo, 7 March 2003

Programme Director
Premier, Cde. Ngoako Ramatlhodi
MEC for Health and Welfare Cde. Sello Moloto
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Limpopo in general and the residents of Phokane in particular for agreeing to host this important occasion; the national launch of the Food Emergency Scheme. It is government's strong belief that the launch of this scheme marks a turning point in the lives of the poorest of the poor and vulnerable of our society.

The Honourable Premier, Mr Ngoako Ramatlhodi, I am sincerely honoured and privileged to have been accorded the opportunity to participate in this historic event. This occasion demonstrates government's continued resolve to the fight against hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.

Programme Director, in October last year, following the surge in food prices and the deteriorating situation of famine and food insecurity in South Africa and the SADC region, Cabinet allocated R400 million to action the Food Emergency Scheme aimed at addressing the plight of the households most vulnerable to food insecurity and hunger. Of the total allocation of R400 million, R170 million has been set aside to be transferred to the World Food Programme (WFP) as South Africa's contribution to the intervention in the Southern African neighbouring states, who are griped by the worst kind of hunger and starvation.

The larger portion of Cabinet's allocation, to the amount of R230 million, will be used for the Food Emergency Scheme we are launching today. This scheme constitutes but one part of government's Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme (IFSNP). The IFSNP consists of five elements:

* First, the development of comprehensive food production and trade schemes to enhance the capacity of communities to produce food for themselves through the setting up of both household and communal food gardens.

* Second, the initiation of a community development scheme aimed at providing employment to local communities through community-based and community-owned public works programmes. The setting up of community-based income generating projects and activities to ensure sustainable food security will complement these.

* Third, the development of a nutrition and food safety programme focussing primarily on the improvement of nutrition levels in our communities to ensure that every child has at least one nutritious meal a day.

* Fourth, the development of a fully funded communication strategy to ensure maintenance of our government's communication lines with all of its people.

* Fifth, and lastly, the building of a safety net and emergency scheme. The Food Emergency Scheme we are launching today is an embodiment of this fifth element, which aims at ensuring that the poorest families, especially children and child-headed households, have food on the table in pursuance of our theme: Bana Pele! Abantwana Kuqala! Putting Children First!

Programme Director, we have therefore gathered here today to reaffirm that the tide has indeed turned against hunger and starvation. Government is committed to focussing more on social spending in order to further push back the frontiers of poverty and to advance our cause of building a better life for all.

Following this launch today and provincial launches throughout the country, this scheme will be rolled out throughout the country over the next 3 months. This scheme will assume the form of the distribution of food parcels to the total value of R230 million. In the immediate, this scheme is targeting over 200 000 households throughout the nine provinces, with an estimated 1,2 million people standing to benefit from it.

Honourable Premier, of all the total allocation for the Food Emergency Scheme, approximately R45, 8 million has earmarked for Limpopo Province alone. In this year alone, an estimated 50 890 households, including those from the community of Phokane will benefit.

The Social Cluster of government, composed of, amongst others, the Departments of Agriculture, Health, Social Development, Education and Finance, together with other statutory bodies like the NDA, IDT, CSIR, Statistics SA and the HSRC, has worked tirelessly to ensure that the objectives of the scheme are realised. The main objectives of the scheme include the following:

* The provision of food parcels as emergency food relief to households that are identified as being most vulnerable to food insecurity, especially those headed by children;
* The linking of eligible persons from these households and communities to social assistance and social security;
* The enhancement of better nutrition amongst the vulnerable sectors of the society, generally;
* Ensuring that vulnerable children, especially orphans, are linked to the School Nutrition Programme;
* To protect the poorest poor households from the surging food prices by enhancing the capacity of the communities and households to provide for themselves; and
* To enhance partnerships and cooperative governance in the fight against hunger and poverty.

The scheme was piloted in December 2002. To date, following weeks of preparatory hard work and consultations with various stakeholders, nearly 12 000 poor households have been reached in six provinces. Each of the households received a food parcel containing food supplies estimated to last for one month, valued at R250. Government recognises that the total value of each food parcel is still not adequate. Resources permitting, the food content value of these parcels will be reviewed from time to time.

Government has committed resources to finance this scheme over a period of three years, totalling R1, 2 billion (inclusive of the current allocation of R400 million).

Ladies and Gentlemen, the government cannot tackle these huge socio-economic challenges alone. This calls for active involvement of all spheres of government in partnership with all sectors of our society. We need to work closely together and integrate our efforts to alleviate poverty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on 14 February 2003, in his State of the Nation Address, the President announced the extension of the age eligibility for the Child Support Grant to include children under the age of fourteen. This extension, which will benefit over 3,3 million children to the tune of R11 billion, will be phased in over a period of three years, as follows:

* Following the President's announcement, all those children who are turning 7 years in the current financial year will be retained in the system and will continue to receive their grants.

* As from 1 April 2003, all children under the age of 9 will be eligible to apply for the grant.

* As from 1 April 2004, all children under the age of 11 will be eligible to apply for the grant.

* As from 1 April 2005, all children under the age of 14 will become eligible to apply for the grant.

Furthermore all the social grants have been increased above the inflation rate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in July this year, the Cabinet lekgotla will ponder the possibility of introducing a comprehensive social security system, which is currently being investigated. This system is expected to address, in a holistic manner, the health, education, social security, transport and employment needs of the poorest of the poor.

In a concerted effort, through, amongst others, the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP)/Urban Renewal Programme (URP) and the Community Based Public Works Programme, the government is investing billions of rands to ensure that we make alleviate poverty. In order to succeed, these efforts must be complemented by the involvement of business, labour, FBOs, NGOs, CBOs and the international donor community.

I am informed that the national and provincial stakeholder forums have been established throughout the country to co-ordinate the implementation of the Food Emergency Scheme. I take this opportunity to thank all the various stakeholders that have responded positively to the call, including Cosatu, SACC, SANGOCO, traditional leaders and community-based organisations. I also take this opportunity to urge all other sectors to join hands.

The business sector, in particular, should play a positive and more visible role. Food prices should be sensitive to the plight of the poorest of the poor. A committee to monitor food prices has already been established. We therefore call on the various sectors to cooperate in this regard.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to indicate that the IFSNP campaign, of which the Food Emergency Scheme is part, will be conducted under the theme: "Together, Let's Provide Food", which emphasises the need for partnership. Everybody should get involved. We also need to make a contribution towards assisting the Southern African region in the spirit of the NEPAD and the African Union. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 14 million people in the region are faced by famine.

Thank you.

Issued by Ministry of Social Development
7 March 2003
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