Boosting food security research
Food security research in South Africa has received a much-needed boost, thanks to the Newton Fund and National Research Foundation (NRF) UK-SA Bilateral Research Chair initiative (SARChi).
Launched last week at the British Council’s Going Global Conference in Cape Town, the SARChi is a NRF joint programme implemented through the British Council. The initiative aims to help strengthen research and innovation capacities in South Africa and the United Kingdom, and to promote international exchange and cooperation.
“Food insecurity is not caused by lack of food at a national level, but by a lack of access to food at the individual level, mainly due to poverty,” says Stephen Devereux, the SARChi in Social Protection for Food Security. It is estimated that one in four South Africans is food insecure.
“One response to food insecurity is social protection, which improves access to food for the poor, either by giving them food or by raising their income,” adds Devereux.
The SARChi will address questions on why food insecurity in South Africa remains so high, despite the comprehensive social protection system, and, how the impact of social protection on hunger can be improved.
Devereux will be based at the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Institute for Social Development, and affiliated to the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS). The CoE-FS’s network spans 12 local universities, seven international partners and two research councils.
“This SARChi presents an opportunity to further widen our network and create new linkages to expand the reach of the Centre. Specifically, this initiative symbolises the importance of international collaborations as a key ingredient to responding to global socio-economic challenges,” says Professor Julian May, director of the CoE-FS.