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.