The impact of TBCCE vouchers on hunger and mental health of pregnant women

On the 31st May 2022 the Grow Great Campaign hosted the webinar Investigating hunger and mental health among pregnant women during the Covid-19 lockdowns: Follow-up findings.

The CoCare Maternal Support Study investigated the impact of providing digital food vouchers to vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers in the Cape Metro area, during the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns 2020-2021.

Beneficiaries were first interviewed in November 2022 to understand how income support during pregnancy affects maternal and child hunger, as well as maternal mental health.

The webinar focused on outcomes from interviews conducted in March-April 2021, and includes insights from specialists in nutrition, mental health, and social justice including:

  • Michael Krause, Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU)
  • Mervyn Abrahams, Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group
  • Dr Christina Laurenzi, Stellenbosch University
  • Kentse Radebe, DGMT
  • Dr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso, The Grow Great Campaign
  • Nonkululeko Mbuli, Embrace Movement for Mothers

Our very own CEO, Michael Krause presented, and as reported in The Daily Maverick article Almost half of pregnant women and 1 in 5 children went to bed hungry in lockdown he states:

“Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading, had partnered with the DG Murray Trust, the Kfw Development Bank, Embrace, and Grow Great to ensure mothers and babies get the support they need. 

They had made funding of R100,000,000 available to disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape for a study and intervention programme called “Towards building a community circular economy”, using Community Care vouchers of R300, made available to mothers every two weeks, and also advocated for the child support grant to be extended to pregnancy. 

The benchmark for the voucher was the food poverty line of R561 in 2021 which is why the vouchers were for R600 (R300 x2), which covered a grocery basket of eggs, beans, pilchards, fortified maize, full-cream milk powder, soya mince, peanut butter, rice, soup mix and Amasi milk. This was calculated to provide 45% of a child’s energy needs and 35% of an adult’s. 

After the organisations identified the vulnerable groups, a total of R125,000,000 went toward 415,000 vouchers and the establishment of 202 food kitchens, 68 food gardens, early childhood interventions, and 105 WiFi hotspots. This covered the low-income areas of Hanover Park, Manenberg, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Harare, Kuyasa, Monwabisi Park and Bonteheuwel and resulted in the Presidential Employment Stimulus Plan “buying” into their approach to supporting communities. “

Download our Towards Building a Community Circular Economy (TBCCE) Caring for Pregnant Women booklet below. You can find all our other TBCCE booklets here.

As stated in the Daily Maverick article, Dr Kopano Mabaso, the executive director of Grow Great, began the webinar by stating that South Africa’s child stunting was higher than expected for an upper-middle-income country, and even among its developing country counterparts.  

The study revealed alarming facts:

Almost 2,500 women from the Western Cape were part of the study, with as many as 40% reporting going to bed hungry at least once a week and 22% reporting their children going to bed hungry amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

Investigating Hunger and Mental Health Among Pregnant Women in the Cape Metro Area during the 2020/21 Covid-19 Pandemic.

Mabaso said it was “a travesty for a mother to choose between eating and attending her routine antenatal clinic visits, who denies herself food so that she can shield her child from hunger, whose mental health inevitably deteriorates until a situation becomes intolerable.  A travesty for a child who… begins their life on the back foot and is denied the nutrients necessary for full health and brain development, eventually trapped into a trap of unemployment and poverty”

She goes on to say: “Our cry as Grow Great is for the policy aspiration articulated in our National Development Plan to see pregnant, vulnerable, poor women be better supported be realised… it has never been more urgent for this policy to move from aspiration to action.” 

Download the full report below: