CommunityEmergency Food Relief Program – COVID-19Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand - South Africa
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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 support the most vulnerable families.

The Singita Lowveld Trust (SLT), 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 short-term 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 Singita Lowveld Trust has therefore temporarily extended the support provided to our current 17 ECD Centre partners to include emergency food relief to the neediest 2,000 families, while the ECD centres are closed due to lockdown. As ECD centres start preparing to re-open, the SLT will continue to support the centres with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and related resources to assist them to open safely.

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, helping them to emerge from the pandemic prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

 

Emergency Food ReliefBasic nutrition is especially important for the development of young children to avoid physical stunting and the long-term effects of malnutrition on their growth.
  • In line with government guidelines, each monthly household parcel contains basic staples to provide for the nutritional needs of a family of 4 for one month, as well as face masks made by a community business to prevent the transmission of the virus. A variety of high-quality seeds are also included to promote sustainable food sources for families in the coming months.
  • The basic staples include maize meal, cooking oil, salt, sugar, beans, mince, rice, tinned fish, peanut butter, soap, toothpaste, dishwashing liquid and household cleaner.
  • Sponsoring a parcel for one family for one month is approximately R650/USD 38 (based on current exchange rate). The cost of supporting the 630 families currently identified as needing support is R409 000/USD 24 300.
  • We’ve been overwhelmed by the generous support received for this initiative and are thrilled to share that the SLT and its partner NGO, Africa Foundation, have delivered more than 1,344 food parcels to date, supporting approximately 5,376 children and their family members (May-August 2020).
PPE and related resources
  • The government gives registered ECD centres only R15 (<USD 1) per qualified child per day to cover staff salaries, a daily meal for the children and operational running costs. No additional funding has been made available for the provision of the PPE and related resources, without which the centres will be unable to create safe learning environments for staff and students.
  • The SLT’s goal is to provide a starter pack to each centre, consisting of one or more thermometers, adult and children’s masks, handwashing stations, sanitisers and cleaning supplies and equipment.
  • A starter pack costs R16 000 (USD 960). To provide starter packs for all 17 centres will cost R272 000 (USD 16 700).
Duration of COVID-19 relief support: This support is intended to be a short-term, stop-gap measure and plans are in place to return to our strategic ECD initiative when appropriate. South Africa has a risk-based response plan in place to gradually lift its lockdown restrictions. It allows for increased economic activity and the resumption of jobs and livelihoods, which may decrease these needs over time. Taking this into account:
  • It’s important that emergency food relief for needy children continue until schools are fully open. Currently, only 50% of children at the centres have been invited back due to social distancing requirements.
  • The need for PPE and related resources will decrease as the pandemic recedes. However, we will continue to monitor centres’ needs as they may need a top-up of consumable items during the first term of 2021.
We will continue to support our 17 ECD Centre partners throughout this uncertain time and enable them to successfully navigate these obstacles, while building invaluable networks and collaborations to ensure the ongoing survival of these important community facilities.
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