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Centre of Excellence in Food Security discusses COVID impact on the vulnerable

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Panellists looked at safety nets and how social emergency relief measures performed in the face of the global pandemic.

Food parcels were distributed to resident of Booysens informal settlement on 29 April 2020. Pictures: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – The impact of the COVID-19 on the vulnerable was discussed in a webinar hosted by the Centre of Excellence in Food Security on Tuesday.

Panellists looked at safety nets and how social emergency relief measures performed in the face of the global pandemic.

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They believe government had shown it can leverage solutions in a short time but add elected officials can still do more to assist the vulnerable.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to shutdowns and restrictions on movement.

Many could not work, especially those in the informal sector. Tuesday’s webinar hosted looked at how this impacted the vulnerable.

Karabo Ozah, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, was one of the panellists: “What we saw is that the most vulnerable became even more vulnerable. Obviously we know that there had been some government responses trying to introduce the temporary grants, and increase child support grants temporarily after there had been lobbying from a lot of NGOs in the country.”

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Ozah noted government’s COVID-19 relief grant of R350: “It’s not nothing, but it’s not sufficient. There’s quite a lot that needed to be done. Also, the government can do quite a lot if they want to.”

Another panellist was Francie Lund, who specialises in social policy in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

She argued the country has good technology and information in its social security system but warned of corruption deep inside the grant system which collaborates with private sector companies.

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