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Type Working Paper - NIDS-CRAM Working Paper
Title Food insecurity in South Africa: Evidence from NIDS-CRAM wave 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
The results of the fifth and final wave of the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (NIDS-CRAM) survey reported in this paper provide an update and analysis of the trend
in household food insecurity and hunger during the past year in South Africa. In a previous paper in May 2021, we noted that “indicators of hunger and a lack of money to buy food, or what we will
refer to as ‘food insecurity’ for brevity, have remained stubbornly high, and do not appear to have changed substantially since June 2020.” Unfortunately, this statement remains true in wave 5.
The first wave of the NIDS-CRAM survey, collected in May and June 2020, provided strong evidence of drastic increases in household and child hunger during the initial period of the coronavirus
pandemic. The second wave of NIDS-CRAM showed improvement in all three measures of food insecurity measured in the survey, although both adult and child hunger and running out of money for food remained disturbingly high. Waves 3 to 5, surveyed in November/December 2020, February/March 2021 and April/May 2021 respectively, showed a significant reduction in households running out of money for food since the first wave of data, but we have not seen any substantial further reduction in hunger levels. Overall, the results indicate that the situation in Wave 5 is similar to July/August 2020.

We conclude that given the protracted nature of the pandemic, slow recovery and its continuing social and economic impact, and the stabilisation of household and child hunger at higher levels,
support for vulnerable households remains crucial, especially support targeted at households with children, given the tragic consequences of enduring hunger for stunting and children’s long-term
development. The reduced availability of money from grants and the tight economic situation are reasons why levels of hunger are likely to remain stubbornly high or perhaps even increase, and
stricter lockdown regulations may again further reduce employment and income from informal economic activities.

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