Nutrition security of farm workers in the North West Province, South Africa / Tholiwe Sophie Sithole
Sithole, Tholiwe Sophie
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Farm workers in the North West province have been identified through previous research as an extremely vulnerable group, regarding their poor nutritional, physical and mental health. It was also revealed that children living on farms are very vulnerable and more likely to be stunted and underweight than any other children in South Africa. Furthermore, farm workers in South Africa have been victims of chronic community poverty. This present study was part of a larger research project on linkages of nutrition security, HIVIAIDS and livelihoods. The aim of this study was to explore underlying causes of nutrition insecurity of farm workers and their households in the North West province. A phenomenological qualitative social research methodology was employed to achieve this. Fourteen women and eight men were interviewed and follow up interviews were done with a sub-sample of eight participants. Furthermore, observations and household food inventories were carried out. Findings revealed that the majority of the households interviewed on this particular farm were nutritionally insecure. Availability of food as such is not a problem to the farm dwellers, due to the closeness of the farm to town. However, not everyone has access to enough and nutritious food, due to a lack of money, the size of households, lack of education, limited time available and the dispersed nature of households. Farm dwellers' poor nutrition situation is aggravated by the lack of adequate infrastructure, sanitation and health facilities, which are below recommended standards. In conclusion, findings highlighted that farm worker households lack food diversity, especially fruits and vegetables, and that they depend on social contributions from friends and relatives outside when they experience food shortages. All farm dwellers also rely on the farmer for financial assistance if they cannot get what they need from friends and relatives. However, this financial assistance they get from the farmer will be deducted from their salaries at the end of the month leaving them with little money to survive for the rest of the month. The results of this study will possibly help to form a basis for developing nutrition intervention programmes with the aim of improving the quality of the nutritional status of farm workers in the North West province, South Africa.
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