The government has responded haphazardly to food relief due to the lack of an integrated strategy to assist vulnerable people during this critical period. This is as a result of uncoordinated databases in different departments and across different levels of government.
Many South Africans were already on welfare in one form or another, including Sassa grants, municipal indigent register lists, provincial social development departments' poverty alleviation and food relief programmes.
All these systems are not integrated. There is no central database that consolidates these efforts. The government, therefore, cannot understand its population dynamics because of the different databases.
Many people often exploit this deficiency by applying to various government departments across the different levels of government in order to improve their chances of maximising their food parcel benefits.
For example, a person would apply through a ward councillor for a food parcel, but also apply to the Gauteng department of social development as well; this will result in many others who need assistance being left out.
It is easy for people to double-dip because there is a major backlog and delay in food parcel delivery. Government is not pro-actively addressing food shortages but is now compelled to reactively address requests from various communities on a "first-come first-serve" basis.
In an ideal world where government is proactive, there would be a central database which integrates the following databases: Home Affairs (births, deaths, foreigners arriving and leaving the country, health (all people arriving at hospitals), UIF (all people who are registered), Municipality rate-payers databases, municipality indigent databases, Sassa grant recipient database , Sassa food parcel database, provincial Departments' of Social Development Databases and Municipal Departments of Social Development databases