Continued disruption and violence in KwaZulu-Natal as result of ongoing protests has threatened to destabilise food security in the province. 5 000 food traders and vendors have been severely affected by riots that have engulfed KwaZulu-Natal in the past week.

The unrest in the country has led to the temporary closure of the informal economy that is predominantly made up of spaza shops, fruit and vegetables vendors, and fish traders. Many have been unable to buy basics as a result of the conflict. In some areas where supermarkets and informal trade have been shut down, panic has set in over insufficient food supplies that have developed.

Small-scale and informal food producers and sellers play an important role in maintaining localised food systems. These food systems allow food to stay within the community, financially benefiting the broader public including women and youth who are involved in the post-harvest value-adding and trading of products, and ensuring food and nutrition security in the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the crucial need to invest in the promotion and use of localised markets. Many could not afford to access nutritionally beneficial food during the height of the lock down. The current protest action has therefore further strained access to good healthy food to local communities in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal.