Impact of food and nutrition interventions on poverty in an informal settlement in the Vaal Region of South Africa

Wilna H. Oldewage-Theron, Tielman J.C. Slabbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


UNICEF has stated that urban poverty is primarily found in squatter settlements. At present 13.5% of all South African households live in informal settlements. The major research question is to what extent does poverty influence the food, nutrition and health of informal-settlement dwellers. The purpose of the present study was to determine the depth of poverty in this community and to measure the possible effect that planned food and nutrition interventions may have on eliminating poverty in this area. Pre-tested questionnaires were administered to 340 randomly-selected caregivers. A validated quantified FFQ was administered by trained enumerators as the test measurement for dietary intake and food consumption patterns and 24 h recall was used as the reference measurement, and the data were analysed. A poverty model was used to measure the impact of extra income on the poverty levels of 190 households. Of the respondents 89% lived in Zn shacks and the average household size was 4.9 individuals. The unemployment rate was 94.2% for respondents and 64.9% for their partners. The majority of households (68.8%) had an income of <R 500 (£35) per month and 58.3% spent <R 100 (£6.90) per week on food. The average poverty gap was R 1342.21 (£93) and the poverty gap ratio was 56%. The poverty model showed that an increase of R 500 (£35) in monthly household income results in a poverty gap ratio of 35%. The poverty model confirmed that the impact of food and nutrition interventions on poverty can be measured and that when planning these interventions the model could be used to measure their feasibility. The results indicate that this community is poverty-stricken and has chronic food insecurity, and they will be used to facilitate planning and implementation of sustainable income-generating community-based interventions to promote urban food security and alleviate poverty in this community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Household food insecurity
  • Informal settlements
  • Malnutrition
  • Poverty
  • Socio-demographics


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