28 October 2020
GABORONE – As many rural communities in Botswana continue to struggle with the economic effects of COVID-19, Wilderness Safaris, together with its non-profit partner Children in the Wilderness (CITW), distributed a third round of food parcels to vulnerable families within the Okavango Community Trust (OCT), as well as Habu and Sankoyo villages, and communities in Maun and Kasane, as part of its ongoing Conservation Heroes food-relief drive.
860 hampers, valued at over BWP376 800, were handed over during ceremonies at each village during September and October. Significant costs for transport, accommodation and staff time was kindly donated by Orezone Transport & Logistics, as well as Wilderness Safaris. Six vehicles and 10 Wilderness Safaris staff were involved in the distribution of hampers in the five villages in the OCT, neighbouring Wilderness Safaris Vumbura Concession, while four vehicles and six staff went to Sankoyo village, next to the Santawani Concession. Four vehicles and 10 staff distributed hampers to the community at Habu village, which neighbours Abu Private Reserve.
“October is sweltering, food is scarce and people need all the support they can get”, explains Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD. With an average of eight people per household, these communities are heavily reliant upon the revenue generated through ecotourism. Now, with COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place, their income stream has been drastically reduced, or has dried up completely. Food shortages have become increasingly prevalent, prompting government and the private sector to provide vital assistance.
“Our efforts have brought tremendous relief in this increasingly challenging period of global hardship”, says Lesh Moiteela, Cultural Ambassador and Community Relationship Manager.
With assistance and guidance from the Dikgosi of each village, their respective Village Development Committees and social workers, those in most need were identified, and the hampers, packed onto the various vehicles, were delivered directly to each homestead. Prior visits to some of the furthest villages had seen a worsening litter situation, with Eretsha and Gudigwa in Northern Botswana's OCT being the worst affected. Thus the visit was also an opportunity to remove litter from the area.
“None of this food hamper assistance would have been possible without the tremendous efforts and care of our supporters, namely our Chairman’s Foundation, Chris Koenemann and friends from Austria and Germany, Orezone Transport & Logistics, Abu Private Reserve, and Wilderness Safaris Botswana,” notes Lesh.
“We remain deeply committed to helping, at the base food level, vulnerable families, and will be heading out again in December 2020 with another massive delivery of food hampers to try and help as many people as we can through the intensely family-focused period around Christmas. I have even greater confidence that we will defeat COVID-19, rebuild our business and at the same time, recover from the effect this pandemic has had on each of our lives”, concludes Kim.