South African National Parks (SANParks), working with with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) distributed food parcels and donated water tanks to the Mahumani community near Giyani in Limpopo as part of its COVID-19 response initiative.
SANParks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni said tourism is the main source of income for most communities living adjacent to the national parks and with the arrival of COVID-19, the income has dried up. “That is why we decided to try and make their lives a little easier in these trying times,” said Mketeni.
Most national parks are situated in rural areas affected by poverty, unemployment and a range of other socio-economic problems. These communities rely on the national parks for their survival, either through jobs or business opportunities. The Mahumani Community, on the border of the Kruger National Park consists of 7 villages and this initiative assisted 300 families with food parcels and 16 water tanks.
Funding for the SANParks COVID-19 relief initiative, which is being extended to communities bordering national parks countrywide, had been sourced from SANParks, the SANParks Honorary Rangers and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Talking at the handover event, Chief Aaron Mahumani said this gesture from SANParks speaks louder than words. “Wwe are grateful that our people will not go to bed without anything in their stomachs. Poverty is real in the rural areas as most people are unable to move to the far away towns and cities where job opportunity are somehow possible and they are back home with no hope – this gesture to the 300 families in Mahumani Village is highly appreciated.”
A total of R13 million has been used to purchase food parcels, hygiene products, education materials and water tanks. Almost 8 000 families have been supported nationally.