Complexities of Food Insecurity at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a Review

  • SC Sabi
  • M Siwela
  • U Kolanisi
  • DK Naidoo


Household food insecurity (FI) is a complex phenomenon challenging most sub-Saharan African countries and despite South African economic growth and decreased poverty levels, some households are still vulnerable to FI. The 2012 report by Statistics South Africa revealed that an average of 20% of households were still venerable to FI, the majority being the poor. Subsequently, FI could indirectly link to high dropout rates of students at Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) in South Africa. This threatens the country’s economic advancement and transformation, as students’ academic performance, degree completion and entry into the labour market are compromised. Post- 2000, FI prevalence among students in South African IHLs has been studied, but there is still a knowledge gap with regard to how the phenomenon is perceived by IHLs. This study investigates the FI issues amongst students in IHLs using secondary data. Perceptions about FI among tertiary students in South Africa, particularly the University of KwaZulu-Natal, were reviewed based on the conceptual and theoretical lenses of 1) Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation; 2) the relationship between nutrition and cognitive power, and 3) the concept of food poverty and stigmatisation. The review shows that FI and academic underperformance in South African IHLs are challenging, complex and paradoxical. Recommendations for institutional responses are made.



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eISSN: 0378-5254