Old Mutual and regional partners tackle Northern Cape challenges
Kimberley - The Northern Cape presents unique challenges as its population of about 1.3 million people is spread out over a vast area of around 373 000 square kilometres. Apart from a few large commercial centres, people live mostly in small, isolated villages, making the delivery of aid during the Covid-19 pandemic a difficult exercise.
Although challenging, conquering the distances across South Africa’s most extensive and least-populated region was achieved, thanks, to great cooperation between Old Mutual, the government, regional authorities, NGOs and other partners,” says Mr Vicus Kammies, Chairperson of Old Mutual’s Northern Cape Provincial Management Board (PMB).
Working together we identified the neediest areas in the region and worked out the logistics of reaching far-flung rural communities. The fact that many members of the Northern Cape PMB themselves live in outlying areas far from Kimberley, the capital, provides useful insights too,” he says.
“Our board members regularly travel long distances and know the region and its people well, so when Covid-19 began its spread through the province, they were immediately able to help identify areas of need.
“We know our people are resilient and able to rise to most challenges, so our focus in the Northern Cape is on the areas where poverty is most rife, and where unemployment can affect up to 98% of a town's people. We are a part of the province and honoured to be able to help the people who have always supported us.”
To help alleviate the impact of Covid-19, Old Mutual worked with the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development and the Premier’s Office to distribute much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds and food parcels.
“We helped supply PPE to the district hospital in De Aar, the Department of Correctional Services in Upington, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), so that financially challenged municipalities could get equipment,” says Mr Kammies.
Food parcels worth R630 000 are being distributed to recipients in De Aar and Kuruman as well as the Kathu, Kalahari and Richtersveld areas. “People are joyful when they get food parcels. A package means their families will be able to eat for a week, something that was uncertain before we arrived.
“We try, particularly with food parcels, to reach the remoter areas and the most vulnerable such as children and the elderly,” says Mr Kammies, adding that Old Mutual would continue to provide support after the allocation of the special Covid-19 funding.
“We will also continue promoting financial literacy and assisting schools and other institutional programmes. We often liaise directly with the province’s Premier to ensure our efforts are coordinated and focused on meeting real needs. This cooperation has resulted in the premier and I travelling together to see the delivery of essentials such as school uniforms to children at remote schools.
“Companies like ours play a significant role in addressing socio-economic problems in the province. Old Mutual has assisted South Africans with their financial decisions for 175 years and we regard our CSI contributions as an essential part of our operations. Helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged people is a privilege that we are happy to undertake in good times and bad,” says Mr Kammies.