SASSA’s disastrous disaster management

20 hours 20 minutes ago
Residents were left without blankets and food after a fire in Wallacedene in February despite the City of Cape Town having notified SASSA officials

By Vincent Lali and GroundUp Staff

Photo of a woman and baby
“When the fire broke out, I stepped out with only a small bucket of rice. Now, we have nothing to eat. I and my baby feel cold at night,” says Khungeka Notshokovu. Photo: Vincent Lali

For years the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre coordinated relief efforts for disasters in the city. It usually did a good job. But in 2018 the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) took over this function. It’s off to a terrible start.

Fire victims are battling to restore their lives after a fire destroyed their shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, in February.

Community leader Thobani Mathole said: “Residents are used to getting disaster relief from government immediately after a fire destroys their shacks. Now, they wonder why the government is not helping them.”

Mathole said the Wallacedene fire victims did not receive food, blankets and a once-off grant after the fire. About a dozen people are affected.

“SASSA officials arrived, took details of the fire victims and promised to bring food and blankets, but they never returned to the fire scene again,” he said.

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Marginalised Namibians are trying to reclaim photography after colonialism

6 days ago
This image, taken by a member of Namibia's San community, reveals a great deal about representation. Tertu Fernandu

Many people think of photography as the ultimate democratic mass medium. Anyone can take and upload a selfie to global platforms. Photos taken by ordinary people and shared on social media have contributed to political change, for example during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.

But in much of Africa, photography has a dark past and a chequered present. Namibia, for instance, was the scene of a genocide between 1904 and 1908. Up to 80% of the Herero ethnic group and large portions of other groups were wiped out by the German colonial military machine. Photography played a role in justifying these massacres and in what followed.

Namibia’s archives contain images of proud German troops standing to attention next to the hanged bodies of Herero prisoners. In the years that followed, colonial authorities tried to portray a gentler side of white rule. Images of black people fascinated by white technology – cameras, airplanes, cars – are not uncommon. The South African rulers who followed the Germans from 1915 to 1990 also used photography for propaganda purposes.

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Key challenges for Kenya in big push to reduce post-harvest losses

6 days ago
A young boy collects maize spilled during the drying and loading process on a farm in Kenya. EPA/Stephen Morrison

The Kenyan government last December announced its “big four” development strategy to be implemented over the next five years. Food security is one of the key strategies. The others are affordable housing, manufacturing and universal health care.

In the realm of food security, the reduction of post-harvest losses has been identified as a way to boost production. This is in addition to expanding the area used by commercial agriculture for staple crops, expanding irrigated agriculture and increasing the use of yield enhancing inputs.

Kenya estimates that 20% of cereals are lost even before reaching the market. That’s a high figure, particularly since it doesn’t include food waste. Food waste refers to good quality food that is fit for human consumption but that does not get consumed because it’s discarded, either before or after it spoils.

Food loss refers to quantity and quality, in which the economic value of produce is degraded. Such food may even become unsuitable for human consumption.

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