Background and Terms of Reference
Food prices in South Africa have increased so substantially since the second half of 2001 as to warrant focused attention from government, especially regarding the effects of price increases on low-income households. Currently, government is pursuing a number of initiatives, including measures to mitigate the price increases, increasing levels of social security grants, and monitoring the supply chain to establish what are the factors that most contribute to food price inflation. In addition, the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) has proposed to develop a system of monitoring the impact of food price volatility on household-level food security, and in particular for gauging the consequences of food price volatility for low-income households. The Human Sciences Research Council was approached to assist in the design and piloting of such a monitoring system.
The terms of reference for this project, accordingly, are to begin to identify and develop methods for conducting an assessment of the impact of food price changes, and to recommend alternative strategies for how such assessments could be undertaken on a regular basis. A by-product of this work is a set of initial results from the pilot exercises as to the impact of food price changes on low-income households. All told, the methodology, with slight variations, was tried in six different locations. However, it must be stressed that the overall sample was too small to draw statistical inferences, nor were respondents chosen according to a proper random sampling scheme. Therefore the results, however engaging, must be interpreted with caution.