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The status of household food security targets in South Africa


  • Jacobs, Peter T.


This article investigates the conceptual and methodological challenges to develop a set of baseline indicators for South African food security targets. A food security target is a well-defined and measurable goal to reduce the numbers of people who lack enough food of the right quality to live healthy lives. To derive baseline indicators for household food security, the following question is asked: what is the average cost of a nutritionally adequate food basket per person? The cost of recommended nutrient intake is based on estimates of dietary energy costs. Reported food expenditure for each household based on 2005/2006 Income and Expenditure Survey data gets compared to two dietary energy cost baskets. The food expenditure shares of the poorest households vary between 38% and 71% according to different surveys. At food expenditure levels reported in the IES, one in five households meet their average dietary energy cost. Deep levels of food insecurity exist in rural areas with 85% of rural households unable to afford even the ‘below average dietary energy costs’. Food security policy based on refined baseline indicators can better target food insecure households. Another policy benefit is that robust indicators help to develop effective monitoring capabilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacobs, Peter T., 2009. "The status of household food security targets in South Africa," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 48(4), December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:agreko:58214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anonymous, 1997. "Meeting Food Aid and Price Support Objectives through Local Grain Purchase: A Review of the 1996 Experience in Ethiopia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 54956, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    2. Abdulai, Awudu & Barrett, Christopher B. & Hazell, Peter, 2004. "Food aid for market development in Sub-Saharan Africa," DSGD discussion papers 5, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Christopher B. Barrett, 1998. "Food Aid: Is It Development Assistance, Trade Promotion, Both, or Neither?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 566-571.
    4. Lavy, Victor, 1990. "Does food aid depress food production? The disincentive dilemma in the African context," Policy Research Working Paper Series 460, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gudeta Alemu Zerihun, 2015. "Working Paper - 220 - Developing a Food (in) Security Map for South Africa," Working Paper Series 2158, African Development Bank.
    2. Louw Pienaar & Dieter von Fintel, 2013. "Hunger in the former apartheid homelands: Determinants of converging food security 100 years after the 1913 Land Act," Working Papers 26/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. Ward, Catherine D. & Shackleton, Charlie M., 2016. "Natural Resource Use, Incomes, and Poverty Along the Rural–Urban Continuum of Two Medium-Sized, South African Towns," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 80-93.


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