Hunger Goal Still Out of Reach in South Africa

by Bob Tortora

More than half of South Africans struggled to afford food last year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- South Africa stands to reap long-term economic gains from hosting the World Cup, which could help the G-20 member make progress on another type of goal -- to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. Gallup surveys in South Africa from 2006 to 2009 show the situation has not improved in recent years.


Since 2008, slightly more than half of South Africans said there were times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed. Although more than a majority, the percentage is not unusually high for sub-Saharan Africa: The median percentage across 18 countries in the region last year was 59%.

Pressed further, about one in four South Africans surveyed since 2006 said they or their families have gone without enough food to eat at least several times in the past year. South Africans fare somewhat better on this measure than many of their counterparts elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa: The median percentage saying they went without enough to eat several times or more in 2009 was 35%.


Gallup surveys suggest that hunger will be a continuing challenge in South Africa and that the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of those who suffer from hunger will take considerable effort given the lack of improvement over the past few years in reported ability to afford food and to have enough to eat. If long-term economic gains from the World Cup help South Africa move closer toward victory, there will be more than soccer to cheer about.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews in South Africa, with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 in older, conducted in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. A minimum of 1,000 interviews were conducted in each of the following countries in 2009: Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Kinshasa, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. One can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±4 percentage points in South Africa and ranges between ±3.5 percentage points in Burundi and ±4.8 percentage points in Senegal. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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