Samkelo, held by his grandmother Nofuduka Mbulawe, suffers from malnutrition. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Samkelo, held by his grandmother Nofuduka Mbulawe, suffers from malnutrition. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Enough food is produced to nourish and feed every person on the planet‚ but nearly one-billion people went to bed hungry each day in 2016.

Patrick Caron‚ chairperson of the high-level panel of experts at the UN’s Committee on World Food Security‚ called the situation "absolutely unacceptable", saying it showed the strong link that malnutrition and hunger had with poverty and conflict.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Conference on Global Food Security, held in Cape Town this week‚ Caron said that scientists were convinced that new knowledge they had produced could be "instrumental in shaping and helping policy decisions to be made".

"There is a consciousness of a totally new map of food insecurity and malnutrition‚" Caron said.

"We are very much interested in food supply and the capacity to have enough to nourish all of humanity. People have come to exchange ideas and to improve the contribution from science to these challenges."

Cape Town has played host to the third edition of the international conference‚ which featured presentations by Nobel laureates on food security. More than 600 delegates from 60 countries attended the event to discuss issues related to food insecurity.

On Wednesday the conference concluded by launching the Unesco Chair in African Food Systems‚ which has been awarded to Prof Julian May from the Centre for Excellence in Food Security‚ based at the University of the Western Cape.

"The goal of the chair is to contribute‚ through research‚ training and innovation‚ towards building a sustainable food system across Africa that provides adequate‚ nutritious and safe food to poor and vulnerable populations‚" said May.

"Gender equality is key to achieving this goal due to the role of women throughout the food system. This is both through the production‚ distribution and preparation of food‚ as well as through maternal health‚ the care of children and the elderly‚ and as custodians of food cultures."

Earlier this year‚ at the National Workshop on School Feeding in SA‚ it was revealed that children who do not receive proper nutrition are more likely to develop anxiety‚ suffer from depression and even attempt suicide.

Tristan Gorgens‚ from the policy and strategy unit in the Western Cape government‚ said their research found that food security also has an impact on crime levels.

"Children’s right to nutrition is a basic constitutional right without qualification‚" Gorgens said.

"Most poor families are spending up to 40% of their income on food‚ and most of the energy they are getting is from cheap foods that are high in carbohydrates."

In August, Statistics SA released a report that measured poverty trends between 2006 and 2015. It found that in 2015 a quarter of the population‚ or 13.8-million people‚ were living below the food poverty line of R17.48 per person per day. That is the amount needed to afford a person’s minimum energy requirements‚ not including nutrition.

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