Masifundise is working on a project together with the Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) that is aiming to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated regulations and restrictions on food systems in Africa.
As part of this project, Masifundise visited Langebaan and Saldanha Bay communities to engage with fishers, processors, and traders, in order to develop a holistic understanding of the existing food system and the changes that came about during and after the pandemic.
These communities have a relatively localized small-scale fisheries food system, with most of the fishing focused on harders or mullet. Although the pandemic brought many challenges for the area, it is evident that there was a lot of support within the community during the hard lockdowns. Most of the fish that is caught is sold locally, and the excess fish is often gifted to neighbours or those in need.
During the lockdown level 5, when people were struggling, these communities were provided with food parcels from various sources both locally and from across the province. The food parcels ensured that no one went hungry, and although this support is incredible to witness, it highlights the fact that the existing system is not resilient to shocks, and that in times of crisis, support is needed to ensure that people survive.
A more empowered community, with local control of their food system, in line with food sovereignty, would protect communities in moments of crisis in the future and limit the reliance on outside sources for food parcels.