Design for food relief in South Africa

About the project

South Africa is suffering. The strict Covid19 lockdown has had devastating economic consequences for the country and on already impoverished communities.
About 56% of the South African population live in poverty and more than 28% in extreme poverty, below the food poverty line.

Without the help of local organisations many children in the area would go to bed hungry.


The project focus on capacity building of three small civil society organisations (CSO) in Grabouw and Elgin Valley: Bethesda Kids, Soul Food Harmony and House of Elohim. They have worked with food relief since the start of the pandemic.

They work in three of the poorest areas in the town and valley, which includes informal areas with no sewages, access to water or electricity. Here they help people most in need. Which are mainly children, pregnant mothers, elderly, homeless and people with disabilities and on chronic medication (ART therapy for HIV/AIDS).

Through the project we can empower Bethesda Kids, Soul Food Harmony and House of Elohim to advocate against the growing issue of food insecurity in Grabouw and Elgin Valley – and to create awareness about health and nutrition in the communities where they work.
They need to know their rights to access land and water – and how to apply for small pockets of land for small-scale farming. They also need to build their knowledge on diet-related illnesses and to understand how a poor diet affect people with chronic diseases. They will also recieve training in nutrition and learn how to cook with local and healthy produce on a low budget.

Another part of the project is to construct a community kitchen at Bethesda Kids.
Currently the founder of the organisation is cooking out of his own kitchen for hundreds of people every day.
The goal is to see the community kitchen not only as providing food, but as a place where community members can ask for advice on how to maintain their own food gardens. Where they can receive seedlings and guidance on how to start growing their own food at home.
It will also function as a chronic medication pick up spot and help community members in need of referrals to health care workers.


South Africa

Strategic partners
Designers without Borders SA
CISU – Civil Society in Development

SDG Goals

The growing food crisis in South Africa

The majority of the community was living in poverty before the Covid19 pandemic.The unemployment rate here is more or less 40% and, because of seasonal work, it rises at the off-season time.
Due to unemployment and financial struggles many families in Grabouw live in conditions of extreme poverty. This, combined with a HIV prevalence of 34% and one of the highest TB rates in the world, makes the community extremely vulnerable.

Another challenge is related to the fact that the area has an underdeveloped smallholder and subsistence-farmer sector and a weak culture of home food production. Most people in Grabouw and Elgin Valley cannot afford the high costs of inputs and do not have access to land. Due to climate change water supplies are also a growing concern. As a result, their choices are severely limited by low or no income, what they can find at the local retail stores and their lack of capacity to produce their own food.

All of these factors have added to the triple burden of malnutrition that South Africa is facing – undernutrition, hidden hunger (malnutrition) and overweight, especially among children under 5.
An estimated 27% of children under the age of 5 in South Africa are stunted (too short for their age). In South Africa a main cause is the shift from traditional high nutrient and fiber rich diets towards ’ultraprocessed’ foods high in sugar, fat, salt, low in fibre and less nutrient dense.

Food — how and where we grow, process, distribute, sell, and eat it — is central to the health of our communities, economy, environment, and bodies.

Bethesda Kids

Bethesda Kids is a faith-based organization that run kids club for predominantly primary school kids as an afterschool activity in various wards in Grabouw.
They focus on sport and culture as well as art activities and have been active in Grabouw for more than 10 years. They are mostly dependent on church donations for their activities.While working with kids they have identified the food insecurity need and also branched out into establishing food distribution points which fed more than a 1000 people daily.
A vegetable garden has been established as a food relief sustainability measure.

Soul Food Harmony

Soul Food Harmony focus on aftercare for kids in their program, as well as substance abuse prevention programs and assistance to families in distress.
Food relief also became a focal point during the pandemic to alleviate the strain on their beneficiaries who could not work during the hard lockdown or lost their jobs.
They have been active in the food relief sphere before the pandemic, mostly serving meals to the kids in the aftercare. They have also extended their already established food garden as a sustainability measure – and have opened a tuck shop and take-away as a social entrepreneur effort to sustain the food relief efforts.

House of Elohim

House of Elohimis a faith-based organisation which is affiliated to their church.
They focus on religious activities as well as youth development. House of Elohim have also established a vegetable garden as a sustainability measure to their food relief efforts.
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We are a volunteer run not-for-profit organisation and we depend on contributions from private people.