Poverty and household food security of black South African farm workers: the legacy of social inequalities

Annamarie Kruger, Stefanie Lemke, Mars Phometsi, Hilda Van't Riet, AE Pienaar, G Kotze

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To assess socio-economic indicators, nutritional status and living
    conditions of farm workers and their families, with the purpose to develop research
    and intervention programmes aimed at enhancing nutritional status and quality of life.
    Design and setting: Three farmschools in two districts of the North-West Province and
    farming communities were selected. Anthropometrical measurements, structured
    face-to-face questionnaires and focus group discussions were carried out in 2002 and
    2003 by a multidisciplinary research team.
    Results: Access to electricity, water and sanitation, as well as monthly food rations or
    subsidies, vary and depend on farm owners. The majority of adults have education
    below or up to grade four, farm schools provide only up to grade seven. Distance to
    farm schools and intra-household issues hamper children’s attendance and
    performance at school. Household food security is compromised due to a lack of
    financial resources, infrastructure and also household resource allocation. This
    impacts negatively especially on children, with half of them being underweight,
    stunted or wasted. Employment is usually linked to men, while most women have
    access to casual jobs only. Insecurity of residence and the perceived disempowered
    position towards farm owners add to feelings of hopelessness and stress.
    Conclusions and recommendations: This study highlights destitute living conditions
    of farm worker families. Apart from structural and financial constraints, paternalistic
    structures of the past might also hamper development. Based on these findings,
    follow-up research projects and in-depth investigations into underlying social issues
    with regard to nutrition insecurity and livelihoods of farm workers were initiated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)830-836
    Number of pages7
    JournalPublic Health Nutrition
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


    • Poverty
    • Socio-economic factors
    • Household food security
    • Farm workers
    • FLAGH programme


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