Helping rural communities at this critical time
Due to the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19, the South African government acted early, declaring a nationwide lockdown in March. This swift and decisive action definitely saved lives and allowed health services to prepare and increase their capacity, but the negative effects on the economy and livelihoods in communities nearby Singita Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park – as well as other areas of the country – have been profound.
The severity of this crisis has prompted many lodges and non-profit organisations around Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park to come together and supply the most vulnerable families with emergency food parcels until government relief becomes available.
The Singita Lowveld Trust, our non-profit conservation partner in South Africa, has been supporting Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres around Singita Sabi Sand and Singita Kruger National Park for many years, funding specialist training and support for principals, teachers and parents and establishing a donor-funded ECD Resource Drive to equip participating schools with best-practice educational equipment and materials. While the focus has always been on empowerment and enabling communities and individuals to create better futures for themselves, these are extraordinary times calling for extraordinary emergency measures.
Before the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown, a third of South African children under six were living below the food poverty line. With the closure of preschools, access to school meals has been cut off – worsening an already dire situation and resulting in a rampant increase in household food insecurity in all villages surrounding our reserves. The Trustees of the Singita Lowveld Trust have therefore temporarily extended the support we provide to our current 17 ECD Centre partners to include emergency food relief to the neediest families during the Covid-19 lockdown period. The food relief initiative is absolutely crucial for their survival at this time, and basic nutrition is especially important for the development of young children to avoid physical stunting and the long-term effects of malnutrition on their growth.
The success of this short-term interim relief for our community partners depends on the generosity of Singita guests and other donors who share our concern for the current and future wellbeing of these communities. Alongside our ongoing, critical conservation efforts to maintain and safeguard our reserves and unique wildlife, this emergency food relief initiative is aimed at making a meaningful contribution to our many community partners supporting the region, and to emerge from the pandemic prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.