Research Enhances Understanding of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability

As the Performance Outcomes Manager in the Office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape Province, Doctor of Administration graduate Dr Xolisile Ngumbela is passionate about seeking solutions to the country’s food insecurity crisis caused by poverty and unemployment.

His study titled: Understanding the Dynamics of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability in the Amathole District in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, aimed to enhance understanding of the district’s food insecurity and vulnerability dynamics that prevail despite government interventions. The study was supervised by Professors Ernest Nene Khalema and Thokozani Nzimakwe.

‘The findings show that old age pensions are the main source of income for people in the district and that they are used to purchase food to feed entire families. This means that 74% of residents do not have sufficient food as the pension is not enough to meet the family’s needs,’ explained Ngumbela.

With first-hand experience of the food insecurity and vulnerability challenges that confront the people of the Eastern Cape on a daily basis, Ngumbela plans to share his findings with the municipality as well as the broader research and other communities. He has submitted five manuscripts for publication, and presented at three conferences, with one on social policy pending in November. He has also penned opinion pieces for the Mail & Guardian and Times Live and is currently working on two journal articles for peer review.

‘My supervisors and I have managed to influence two communities in the Amathole District to revive their Siyazondla food gardens that were dysfunctional. We also linked these communities with agricultural extension officers for support with implements and seedlings. I hope that I will be able to play a part in strengthening government interventions. These might seem like a drop in the ocean, but something is always better than nothing,’ he said.

Words: Thandi Jumo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan