Twenty children have starved to death in Nelson Mandela Bay since March last year – and more than 140 were hospitalised for severe malnutrition.
It’s a figure that has, since its announcement, been met with incredulity.
How can 20 children starve to death in a city full of food?
It is a heartbreaking situation.
In Joe Slovo people are beating each other up over meagre food parcels.
When a school principal discovers that a child’s highest ambition is to be first in the food line, we should all cry in despair.
Are we perhaps looking at a whole generation of youngsters who will be destroyed by a system of malignant poverty that is almost impossible to break?
But how do those who have a regular income help?
Can we just carry on giving? Or have we merely become desensitised and fatigued with so much need around us.
Maybe we should start asking a few questions: first, why is food security and making sure that everyone has something to eat not a priority in this city?
Nelson Mandela Bay is a deeply divided city, inequality is rife.
Our weight statistics maybe shows this in the starkest of ways.
In a recent Discovery poll the city topped the fat list for those who have medical aid while 20 children starved to death.
It is encouraging to see a strong push by the church and civil society to address hunger and deep poverty.
Several NGOs are working hard to distribute food donations. Soup kitchens run every day.
But surely we can do more.
Let’s have a citywide meeting and come up with a plan.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can reach December 1 2018 and the MEC can say nobody in the Bay starved to death in the past year?
Surely there is a wealth of expertise and skills out there to help us with this.
Those who can plant and grow vegetables, do so. Donate the excess. Do not throw food away. Make soup. Do something. Let’s do it as a city. Let that be the goal: no hunger deaths in 2018, and if government wants to join the plan, then so be it.
We can never allow this to happen again.