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What’s it like living on R117 a week?

Half the world’s population live on $2 a day or less – what’s it like in a South African context to live on R17/day or R117 for a week?

Well-known dietitian, nutrition consultant and food labelling expert, Jane Badham, recently took part in the “Living on $2 Day Challenge”, a project of Sight and Life, the global nutrition think tank and humanitarian initiative which is committed to fighting micronutrient malnutrition.

To mark Sight and Life’s 25 celebration of ‘100 Years of Vitamins’, Sight and Life launched the “$2 a Day Challenge” – an initiative designed to increase participants’ awareness of the daily plight of the world’s poor.

Just over 100 members of staff from Sight and Life and DSM Nutritional Products in Switzerland signed up. By living for a week with no more than $2  per person per day to pay for all their food and drink, they pledged to sacrifice their comforts and experience the reality and challenges of poverty and hunger.

Jane Badham, a member of Sight and Life, was among them. Here are some of her thoughts from her blog while on the challenge, and also some of her menus…

DAY 1: Statistics are real people

“One billion people suffer from hunger and every day 16,000 children die from hunger- related causes – that’s one child every five seconds … It is easy to forget that each of these individuals, each child, also has a face and a family.”

DAY 2: Living on the breadline

“I am mindful of mothers who today sent their children to school on nothing more than a cup of tea and perhaps a slice of bread, knowing that it is not enough and that they will be hungry in class and probably won’t be able to concentrate. I feel drawn to the plight of those mothers who dream that their child will have a better life than they have, but who must wonder if that will ever be a reality.”

DAY 4: Stimulating versus Survival

“The definition of challenge is ‘a test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking’ – indeed for me this challenge, for just seven days, is stimulating but I feel for the millions who have to live each day on $2 – for them it cannot be stimulating. For them, it is simply about survival.”

DAY 6: The Great Divide

“We often suggest to people that they buy what’s in season and buy in bulk to reduce the cost, but today I am acutely aware that buying in bulk is not an option for the poor, as firstly they often don’t have the kind of cash on hand to buy large amounts, and secondly few people living on $2 a day have a fridge!”

Day One
Day Three
Breakfast: Oats porridge, one banana
Breakfast: 100g yoghurt, one apple
Lunch: 3 slices bread, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp jam
Lunch: Leftover tuna pasta bake from previous day
Supper: Broccoli & cheddar cheese soup, one slice toast, 1 tsp marg
Supper: Chilli con carne, 60g dry rice
Other: 2 black tea bags, 60ml milk, 2 tsp sugar
Other: 2 black tea bags, 60ml milk, 2 tsp sugar

You can download an article on Jane’s challenge in the Sight and Life Magazine here, or visit her photo-and-blog diary of the challenge at www.

About SIGHT AND LIFE: a humanitarian initiative of DSM, works with global and local partners and leading universities to sustainably and significantly improve human nutrition and health by encouraging partnerships, the generation and exchange of scientific information, and network building. Since its founding, the initiative has supported around 3 000 projects in over 80 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

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