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06 April 2022

Phase three of the National Food and Nutrition Security Survey kicks off in Gauteng province

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Tuesday 5 April 2022 –  Phase three of the National Food and Nutrition Security Survey (NFNSS), a household-based survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), starts in Gauteng province on Monday, 11 April 2022. 

The survey seeks to gather information that the government will use to ensure that every household in South Africa has access to adequate food and nutrition through targeted interventions and effective planning and deployment of resources for food production.

Phase three covers Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Coincidentally, this phase starts mere days after the release of a tragic report indicating that, in the past 15 months, 14 children under the age of five starved to death in Nelson Mandela Bay, the Eastern Cape’s biggest metro. Another 216 new cases of severe acute malnutrition were confirmed.

Phase one was conducted in 2021 in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North-West. Phase two started in February 2022 in the Free State and Northern Cape and will conclude in the Western Cape in April 2022.

The objectives of the survey are to provide a baseline assessment of the food security and nutrition situation in households by focusing on:

Availability, through determining food availability at household level 

Access, through determining food access at household level 

Food utilisation, through determining food consumption and compiling anthropometric measurements of household members (height, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI) etc.) 

Food stability, through assessing household food stability with respect to food supply, food price changes, shocks and household coping mechanisms

The survey will analyse the link between food security and nutrition and assess the reasons for household vulnerability to hunger and poor nutrition, including the impact of COVID-19. 

Survey results will determine policy recommendations and options for targeted food and nutrition security interventions. 

According to the study’s principal investigator, the HSRC’s Dr Thokozani Simelane, the survey is South Africa’s first in-depth, country‐wide study of food security and nutrition vulnerability. 

It intends to provide a first step towards the development of a multidimensional index to assess countries’ vulnerability to food insecurity across all four dimensions (food availability, access, utilisation and stability).

“The survey is meant to be a national ’village-based‘ assessment and ’household-based‘ survey, providing data at district and, where possible, at municipal level for the highest precision required to measure the severity of food insecurity to support evidence-based decision making and planning. Data will be collected across the country from selected households in rural and urban areas,” said Dr Simelane.

The study targets at least 49 210 households across all 52 districts of South Africa in all nine provinces. Over 100 000 people are expected to participate in the survey. These include the head of the household and/or the person responsible for food procurement and food preparation. Other participants will include children under the age of 5 years and biological mothers of children in this age group.

For this ground-breaking survey, HSRC fieldworkers in various districts will visit the households to conduct interviews in local languages using a questionnaire to gather information, which may include the following:

Geographic particulars



Food availability

Food production

Shocks and social networks

Infant feeding practices


Household information


Dwellings and services

Food security

Food consumption

Impact of COVID-19

Dietary diversity

The HSRC and provincial departments of agriculture would like to encourage members of the community to welcome and support fieldworkers who will be collecting data in their communities. They will be identified by their HSRC-marked bibs.

For more information on the study, community members can visit the HSRC’s website 

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For media interviews, please contact Adziliwi Nematandani, 0827659191, email:

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences. 

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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