COVID-19: Are We Asking the Right Questions about ... Food Supply and Poverty Alleviation in the Former Homelands?

Most South Africans have limited awareness of events outside of the major metros. This myopia has been exacerbated during the Covid-19 lockdown by restrictions on travel. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that, although the society is undergoing rapid urbanisation, approximately 30 per cent of the population (17 million) continue to live in rural areas. The territories that once fell under the homelands contain the majority of this population and are relatively densely settled. Although we have not been able to visit these areas in lockdown, reports suggest that they are being hit especially hard by the social and economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and associated government response. In the longer term, these areas will face even greater challenges. Relatively high levels of poverty and undernutrition already prevail and may turn into serious episodes of malnutrition. Deep-seated processes of economic decline are likely to intensify.