By: Collen T Ndobo
The nationwide South African lockdown has stimulated exciting new initiatives by social enterprises, corporations and interest groups. Alliances have emerged between Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), churches and companies with a shared commitment to get food to people who need it most. It is not easy to quantify the number of people in need during this pandemic, however, indications suggests that as many as 34% people in the country have gone to bed hungry during lockdown.
MAMAS Alliance, a network of strong, reputable, independent and autonomous grassroots childcare organizations has embarked on a community market gardens programme with the main of producing crops, sell and eat, which will directly alleviate poverty and address food security. The alliance has more than thirty NGOs, 18 of them are actively involved in food gardens. According to MAMAS Alliance CSI consultant, Ruth Butcher, to date, existing gardens have been supported and new gardens implemented Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, Nwamitwa, and Mulima in Limpopo,Dimbaza, Gonubie,and Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape and Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State, Vryburg in the North-West Province, Malmesbury and Nyanga in the Western Cape and Winterveld in Gauteng.
“The first port of call is to provide food to as many people and familes as possible. We cannot stand by and watch people starve. Food parcels are not sustainable and creates dependency so in the long-term a more sustainable solution needs to be implemented”
“Rather teach a man to fish, provide communities with the necessary equipment and skills to start a food garden, or in some instances expand an existing garden, ” Butcher said. She added that the alliance strongly believes that gardens bring a unique and much needed approach to building food security in communities. MAMAS Alliance has partnered with Food and Trees for Africa as an implementation partner who trains, equips and capacitates local communities from each NGO in food gardening. The alliance also uses farming for educational purposes, skills training and transfer, and brings communities together to reduce crime, increase safety and general wellbeing.