Pretoria - South African National Parks (SANParks) together with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) has distributed food parcels and donated water tanks to the Mahumani community near Giyani in Limpopo as part of its coronavirus (Covid-19) response initiative.
SANParks chief executive Fundisile Mketeni said tourism is the main source of income for most communities living adjacent to the national parks and as South Africa endures the Covid-19 pandemic, the communities’ income has dried up.
“That is why we decided to try and make their lives a little easier in these trying times,” said Mketeni.
SANParks said most national parks are situated in rural areas which are affected by poverty, unemployment and a range of other socio-economic problems. These communities rely on the national parks for their survival, through jobs or business opportunities.
The Mahumani community, on the border of the Kruger National Park, consists of seven villages and the current SANParks 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, has been sourced from SANParks, the SANParks Honorary Rangers and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
At the handover ceremony, the community’s Chief Aaron Mahumani expressed gratitude on behalf of his people.
“Poverty is real in the rural areas as most people are unable to move to the faraway towns and cities where job opportunities are somehow possible and they are back home with no hope. This gesture to the 300 families in Mahumani village is highly appreciated,” he said.
A total of R13 million has been used to purchase food parcels, hygiene products, educational material and water tanks. Almost 8,000 families have been supported nationally.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will move to Covid-19 level 3 lockdown on June 1.
"Cabinet has determined that the alert level for the whole country should be lowered from level 4 to level 3 with effect from June 1," he said in a televised address to the nation.
Ramaphosa said this would entail the reopening of most of the economy and would see some eight million people return to work, including most civil servants.