Enhancing food security through the integration of DRR and the food chain value : the case of the Listeriosis outbreak, South Africa
Disasters tend to negatively influence the activities and functions of the entire food chain which ultimately affect food security. South Africa is considered to be food secure at a national level, however over 6,8 million citizens experienced hunger in 2017 (Stats SA, 2019). The government established food security policies to address this however, disaster risk along with poverty continue to threaten food security. Therefore, it is important to protect livelihoods and make food systems more capable of absorbing disaster risks through sustainable food chains. The food chain has been facing a continuous crisis and disaster risk due to complex interactions between socio-economic and environmental factors. However, the rapid increase of disaster risk in terms of frequency and extent along with socio-economic issues have made it challenging for food chains to continue absorbing these risks. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore how the integration of the Food Chain Value (FCV) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) can enhance food security in South Africa. To achieve this aim, six research objectives were established and addressed in the chapters (1-6) of the study. Firstly, a literature review explored the relationship between the FCV, food security, and DRR, followed by a legislative analysis to identify and analyse the policy gaps towards addressing food security (FSNP, IFSS, and ZHP) and disaster risks (NDMC, NDMAF, NDMF, and DMA) in South Africa. A qualitative research design was applied through the use of a questionnaire that was used to conduct semi-structured interviews and for self-administration in order to explore how the integration of the FCV and DRR can enhance food security in South Africa. Thematic analysis was used to develop five themes that were predetermined based on the research objectives with others emerging from the participants’ responses. The research findings revealed that there is a knowledge gap about DRR among the respondents which is concerning because climate change and disaster risk were recognised as key dynamics that disrupt the FCV and threaten food security. Furthermore, the current national policy structures of South Africa offer limited policy integration of the FCV and DRR where the food chain stakeholders and DRR officials work separately. This was further accentuated by using the Listeriosis outbreak as an example which resulted in 1, 060 cases and 216 mortalities. This outbreak exposed the loopholes in food safety regulations and the need for better preparedness. The Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa (2017/18) emphasised the significance and need for proper risk assessment. According to respondents, the household food security become distorted during and after the outbreak in the sense that consumers lost their preference and convenience; anxiety about processed food; disrupted household budget; loss of income for those who were laid-off from Enterprise; disruption of small local businesses; changed consumption patterns; and increased food waste. The respondents noted DRR as an approach that can contribute towards reducing and preventing risks within the FCV. The findings of the study are significant towards policymaking and understanding areas that require further attention in terms of integrating DRR into the FCV. The study recommends that a forum which is specifically focused on integrating DRR into the FCV should be established with clear roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion and duplication of initiatives/strategies.