In 2009, when the United Nations General Assembly declared Nelson Mandela’s 18 July birthday Nelson Mandela International Day, Madiba called on the people of the world to honour him by helping their communities. For the Nelson Mandela Foundation, their focus and messaging is based on promoting community and home-based gardens, supporting fruit and indigenous tree planting, and creating awareness of the intersections between food security and climate change.

This year, they are highlighting the plight of food security and climate change with the tagline, “Do what you can, with what you have,
where you are.” 

This week, I decided to look at this year’s theme for both Mandela Day and Month, because it speaks to my passion of giving in any way you can. I know that everyone is going through the most these days with everything going up from petrol to food to electricity and everything else around us. However, giving back to those less privileged is something that we should still consider regardless. This is because giving back doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give money – it is also giving in terms of time and the skills that you have.

Giving your time to those that need could also include helping NGOs to start vegetable gardens because food shortage seems to be the most critical need out there not just in SA but in the African continent as a whole and beyond. We always think that to give back you need grand gestures, but people who have nothing appreciate any little that you can share with them. This could also be old clothes or blankets that you don’t use anymore, donating vegetable seeds or even giving food that would otherwise get spoiled to others also means a lot to other people. Recently, I came across stats on the Global Food Crisis and the situation is not getting any better as the years go by. We always look at our situation and think that we are struggling until we realise how dire the circumstances are for other people out there.

According to the stats from the World Food Programme, globally more people are slipping into hunger and there is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022 and it is predicted that 2023 could be worse. There are signs of a global food shortage that may last for years, leaving no country immune. The factors that have been identified as causes of this include:

Food Inflation – is pricing families out of basic meals. The World Bank estimates that when food prices increase by 1%, 10 million more people are thrown into extreme poverty worldwide.

Fuel and fertilize prices – are making it more expensive to grow and transport food. Fertilizer prices have risen by more than half in the past year, and energy prices by more than two thirds. All harvest will be hit, including rice and corn – affecting billions of people across Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

>  Climate Shocks – are destroying livelihoods and farmlands, putting people’s lives at risk, and driving displacement. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has declared the climate crisis as the most vital of all the crisis facing the world, and countries must scale up their actions dramatically.

>   Conflict – continues to prevent millions of families from accessing food and puts countries into a reverse gear. Now, the war in Ukraine is having consequences on hunger worldwide, causing an upheaval in global food prices and the energy market.

>  The Pandemic – resulted in people out of their jobs, increased hunger, and social tension in conflict areas. The number of severely food insecure people has more than doubled compared to before the pandemic.

>  All of the above, compounded – have caused an unprecedented growth in global humanitarian needs. In just two years, the number of severely food secure people increased by more than 200 million from 135 million in 53 countries pre-pandemic to 345 million in 82 countries today.

Looking at these stats and considering the challenges that we are facing as a country; can you imagine just how much suffering is in most of the country’s households at the moment. If other countries in the world are complaining, how much more for us? A country that was facing extensive issues even before COVID. I dread to think how NGOs that focus on taking care of vulnerable children, the disabled and the elderly are coping right now if the situation is the way it is in other parts of the world. In spite of all our troubles – we unfortunately still need to consider simple ways of helping those who are in more desperate situations than ours.

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