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Investigating the contribution of social cash transfers to the food security situation of agricultural-based rural households of Nhlazuka, Richmond Municipality, South Africa.

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It is estimated that over 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems. Food insecurity in South Africa is due to insufficient access to food because of structural poverty and inequality dynamics with a strong racial footprint rather than a shortage of food. Moreover, scarce employment opportunities (especially in rural areas), rising cost of living, limited investment in agricultural development, increase in informal 6settlements and high dependency ratios especially in low-income households are some of the factors contributing to food insecurity in the country. Thus household-level food security is a major challenge to the South African government and policymakers. Globally, social protection interventions remain essential for addressing the multidimensional aspects of poverty and vulnerability to food insecurity. Social protection plays a considerable role in improving the lives of rural communities that are dependent on agriculture as a source of livelihood. The study examined the contribution of social cash transfers (SCTs) to the livelihood of rural communities of Nhlazuka in Richmond Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa and assessed the factors influencing access to the SCTs. A sample of 108 respondents was randomly selected and several household-level variables were used to determine factors that influenced access to SCTs. Household food security status was determined through Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). An Endogenous Switching Poisson model was used to analyse the contribution of access to cash transfers to household food security, while also accounting for both endogeneity and sample selection issues. In addition, a logistic regression model was used to examine the influence of various socio-economic factors (independent) on the contribution of SCTs to the livelihoods of rural communities. The results showed that access to cash transfers, gender of household head, access to credit, membership to farm-based organisations (FBO), membership to cooperatives and access to agricultural training was statistically significant (P<0.001 and P<0.002 respectively) in determining household food security. Gender of the household head significantly positively correlated to SCTs by the household, indicating that the gender of the household head contributed significantly to access to SCTs (P<0.045). The age of the household head, household size and marital status were statistically significant in determining the household food security. The marginal model showed that the odds of receiving SCTs decreased by 8.9% when the household head was female compared to male. Access to SCTs was an important factor in achieving improved household food security status. Cash transfer programs for the needy play a significant role in reducing food insecurity and increasing livelihood diversification as households use the cash to purchase agricultural implements which in turn contributes towards their food production. This means SCTs can have a wide range of effects that extend far beyond programme objectives. This finding is critical for the ongoing policy discussions in South Africa, focusing on the long-term relevance and benefits of the SCTs. There is a need for the government to continue improving access to SCTs as they are crucial to the livelihoods of households. Targeted cash transfers towards old age, women and youth are needed particularly because many of these people lack access to food.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.