The number of people who go to bed hungry in Johannesburg has been drastically reduced over the past five years, but Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau is not entirely satisfied with the achievement so far as many households still live in poverty.
According to the City of Johannesburg’s End-of-Term Report released by Mayor Tau at Bidvest Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Illovo on Wednesday July 6, research shows that in 2011 about 42% of the urban poor went to bed hungry at least twice or three times a week.
Through a number of aggressive food security initiatives – including the distribution of food parcels and the establishment of food gardens and farming co-operatives – the City managed to reduce the poverty level to 24.5%. Because of its urgency and critical nature, the Agriculture and Food Security Programme, under which these initiatives were implemented, was at the beginning of the municipal term in 2011 put on top of the list of 10 Priorities the City had to tackle.
The other priorities include a safer city; sustainable human settlements; resource sustainability; SMME and entrepreneurial support; investment attraction, retention and expansion; engaged and active citizenry; financial sustainability and resilience; green economy and blue economy; and smart city. Guided by the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy and driven by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Nonceba Molwele and her Executive Director, Wandile Zwane, the fight against food insecurity was intensified.
While acknowledging progress the City had made since 2011, Mayor Tau said many households remained poor.
“Poverty remains one of the City’s biggest challenges. Key factors include spatial inequality and jobless growth, reinforced by low skills levels. The 10 priorities we have focused on for this term of office, which were identified through the Joburg 2040 GDS process, are designed to address these contrasts,” he said.
“There has been a substantial reduction in food insecurity in the targeted sample based on deprivation maps developed by the City. More than 93 000 households have participated in the City’s food security initiatives. Critically, the programme has reached all of the City’s most deprived wards,” he said.
The Mayor also that said although the average household monthly income in Johannesburg was R15 270, on average 50% of poor homes earned about R3 543, of which between 60% and 80s% was spent on food, housing and transport.