TODAY - October 16 - is World Food Day, and according to a new report by the international agency ActionAid, South Africa lags behind many of Africa's poorer nations on its policies to tackle hunger.
The report, which is being launched today, says global hunger figures have reached a record high of more than one billion.
ActionAid's report, Who's Really Fighting Hunger?, investigates and ranks the efforts of 51 governments in tackling hunger. South Africa scores an overall 40percent and sits in the middle of the developing country rankings.
"South Africa is ranked just above Ethiopia and below Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho. With 14 million people already going hungry and experts predicting that severe malnutrition is back on the rise, South Africa could be doing much, much better," said Zanele Twala, ActionAid's South Africa director.
The scorecard report shows that several countries have made spectacular progress in tackling hunger, while reducing poverty and inequality.
The report points to lessons from Brazil (top of the developing country rankings) which cut child malnutrition by 73percent and China (second ranked) which cut hunger numbers by 58 million - both in less than a decade.
"This has been achieved, in part, by equitable land reform and strong state support for small-scale farmers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are clear policy lessons to be drawn from our top performing countries.
"Key to tackling hunger and reducing poverty is a massive scale-up of government support to poor small- scale farmers. There are lessons for South Africa because it does appear that government policy is shifting in this direction," said Anne Jellema, ActionAid's policy director. - ActionAid