Predictors of food insecurity and coping strategies of women asylum seekers and refugees in Durban, South Africa

Carin Napier, Wilna Oldewage-Theron, Beryl Makhaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: This cross-sectional study assessed the prevalence of household food insecurity and the association between food insecurity and coping strategies among women asylum seekers and refugees in the city of Durban in South Africa. Methods: A coping strategy questionnaire was used to determine food security as this gives a good indication of what the women have to go through in order to provide safe and nutritionally sound meals to family members. The questionnaire also presents an indicator of food security, with a higher score indicating a higher level of food insecurity. Participants were recruited in the Durban city centre from church and community meetings and in their workplace. Data were collected from 200 women. Households were classified as food-secure and food-insecure groups for comparison purposes. Data were analysed on SPSS, version 23.0, for descriptive statistics, correlations, and logistic and bivariate linear regression. Results: The results showed that 96.2% of the women were living in poverty (<US$1.9 per person per day). Only 8.0% of the women were food secure. Regarding the coping strategies, except for 'sending children to the refugee pre-schools' the number of coping strategies was significantly higher in the food-insecure group (p=0.000). The number of people in the household, the unemployment status of the women and household income were predictors of poverty (R 2=0.859, p=0.000, SEE=0.189). Larger household size, households spending between ZAR700 and ZAR900 on food monthly (OR 1.01; CI 0.26-4.56) and households purchasing food from street vendors (OR 4.02; CI 01.35-46.23) or informal community shops (OR 4.1; CI 0.42-40.22) were indicators of food insecurity. Conclusion: This study points to a serious problem of household food insecurity among black women asylum seekers and refugees in the city of Durban, South Africa. The food security status of this group of women can possibly impact on the nutritional status of the family unit and make the family vulnerable to disease and illness. This will place an additional burden on the government in providing healthcare services to refugees and asylum seekers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalAgriculture and Food Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 25 2018


  • Coping strategies
  • Food insecurity
  • Households
  • Refugee
  • Women


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