Helping poor families is necessary during lockdown
South Africans of all walks of life have, in recent weeks, experienced the devastating financial impacts of the national lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Most national parks, if not all, are situated in rural areas affected by poverty, unemployment and a range of other socio-economic problems.
As a result of the international shutdown of the tourism industry on which so many of our communities living adjacent to the national parks and game reserves rely, their livelihoods are threatened.
This includes land claimants, the contractual parks, communities in the process of being incorporated into the conservation estate, as well as traditional authorities working within the parks. It also includes local rural communities who trade at park and reserve gates, selling curios, crafts and firewood to tourists.
Because their main source of income has dried up, Sanparks decided to try and make their lives a little easier in these trying times . In total, 7,000 food parcels and 80 water tanks will be by donated to those communities identified as being most in need.
This is part of the national government's drive to provide Social Relief of Distress to those who need it most. The donation of water tanks to water-stressed areas is part of the government's push back against Covid 19, as we try to ensure all communities can practice basic hygiene measures, including hand washing to prevent the spread of the virus.
Throughout late April and May, we will be distributing parcels to families adjacent to our national parks in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State, Eastern and Western Cape.
We are working with municipalities, traditional, tribal authorities and the various organisations in the vicinity of the country's national parks to ensure the donations reach those they are intended for.
Recipients include child-headed households, crafters, and families who normally benefit from casual work and informal trading on the outskirts of our national parks.
The eighty water tanks have been donated to communities living adjacent to the Kruger National Park, following the identification of numerous areas where a reliable water supply is a major problem.
At a time when hygiene is of the utmost importance, these water tanks not only make it possible for residents to wash their hands more often and practice good hygiene, but also provide much-needed drinking water, and water for other everyday needs.
It is a first step to ensuring all our communities have access to clean potable water, not only in a time of crisis, but in improving the lives of communities well into the future.
Communities living next to our national parks partner with us in preventing poaching and illegal harvesting of plants. At a time like this, helping our fellow citizens ensures there is no rise in poaching of bush meat in our protected areas for food.
Although the tourism sector remains closed during the lockdown, management, conservation and anti-poaching services in our national parks and game reserves continue.
*Creecy is the minister of environment, forestry and fisheries.
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