Seasonal food insecurity among farm workers in the Northern Cape, South Africa
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Very little is known about seasonal hunger in South Africa, or about the food security and nutritional status of farm workers. This article identifies a pathway to seasonal hunger—through intra-annual fluctuations in agricultural employment and income—that is underanalyzed in the literature. We report on findings from a year-long data collection process, comprising baseline and endline surveys and monthly monitoring of three food security indicators, with a sample of 195 female farm workers in the Northern Cape province in South Africa. The three monthly monitoring indicators—the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS), Dietary Diversity Score (DDS), and Coping Strategies Index (CSI)—which measure different aspects of food insecurity, are analyzed to determine whether and to what extent food security fluctuates seasonally in our sample. HFIAS results show unambiguous evidence of seasonal food insecurity, with the highest prevalence (88 percent experiencing severe food insecurity) and severity during the low employment winter period, and lowest prevalence (49 percent) and severity during the summer harvest, which corresponds with relatively higher employment and earnings.