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NC will lose a generation to malnutrition

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“Food has become unaffordable and thousands of households in the Northern Cape are struggling to put a meal on the table.”

Picture: KATE HOLT, KATE HOLT/EYEVINE, AUSTRALIAN AID PHOTOLIBRARY

THIS week’s petrol price increase sounded a death knell for more than half of the citizens of the Northern Cape, who suffer in poverty.

This is according to the DA’s Isak Fritz, who was speaking at yesterday’s budget presentation for the Department of Social Development.

Fritz pointed out that this week’s fuel increase came on top of other fuel increases, as well as inflation and the 1% VAT increase.

“Food has become unaffordable and thousands of households in the Northern Cape are struggling to put a meal on the table.”

He highlighted research that indicates that in 2016 nearly a third of South African children under the age of five years were stunted because they did not get the necessary nutrition.

“Without good nutrition, a young child can suffer serious and often permanent damage to their developing brains and bodies.”

Fritz stated that the Department of Social Development had a responsibility to do much more to address the basic needs of the poor and to stem hunger.

“Already, the Northern Cape has lost a generation of young people to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which long ago reached epidemic proportions in the Northern Cape. South Africa cannot afford to lose yet another generation, and their children, to malnutrition as a result of out-of-control tax.”

Fritz stated that aside from FAS and malnutrition, the country had also lost and continued to lose a generation to substance abuse.

“The last National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey of 2008, which is outdated and I suspect presents a more conservative view compared to the reality of what we are truly facing 10 years on, showed that the Northern Cape had the highest proportion of pupils who have used alcohol on school property in school time. It also had the highest prevalence of pupils who used dagga before the age of 13, cocaine, heroin, club drugs and tik.”

He added that while there were programmes to address treatment and prevention of substance abuse, there was little, if anything, that addressed the empowerment of people living with FAS.

“Just as the department provides workshops for people living with physical disabilities, so too must it cater for workshops for people living with FAS. They too deserve hope for a better life.”

He further called on the department to ensure that NPOs, which provided services that the department itself was obliged to provide, were funded fairly and transparently.

“I would be failing the elderly if I also did not mention the pitiful services being delivered at old age homes across this Province, two of which were recently flagged as being amongst the very worst in the entire country. Our older people deserve so much better. Many have no one left to look out for them but the state.”