Assessing the food security status of households participating in community gardens in the Maphephetheni uplands determined by the Household Food Security Access Scale.
Shisanya, Stephen Odede.
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While South Africa is nationally food secure, the m ajority of rural households are food insecure. Community and home gardens are widel y promoted to alleviate food insecurity. Households in the Maphephetheni Uplands , KwaZulu-Natal have come together to cultivate community gardens, producing food crops for consumption and selling surpluses. This study evaluated the contrib ution of community gardens towards alleviating food insecurity in the Maphephe theni Uplands. A survey was conducted among 53 participants of community garden s and their households. A questionnaire and focus group discussions were used to evaluate the following household food security measures: anxiety and uncer tainty about food supply; consumption of a variety of preferred foods; consum ption of sufficient quantities of food; and the prevalence of food insecurity. Eighty percent of the participating households had insufficient food intake, 72% consum ed food of inadequate quality and 89% were anxious and uncertain about food suppl ies. Among the households surveyed using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, 88.7% were categorised as severely food insecure, often going a day withou t eating, going to bed hungry or running out of food for more than ten days in a mon th. Eight percent of households were moderately food secure, and three percent were mildly food insecure. No households were food secure according to the classi fication. Only 11% of the household food was sourced from community gardens, while 83% was purchased and six percent was sourced from home gardens. Limited community garden sizes, drought, floods, theft, pests and diseases were ide ntified by community gardeners as factors limiting the contribution of community gard ens to household food security. Community gardens have not alleviated food insecuri ty among the participating households. It is recommended that an investigation should be carried out on how productivity could be improved through appropriate crop husbandry practices to reduce crop loses. Since purchasing is the main sou rce of food among community gardeners, alternative income generating activities need to be investigated.
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