The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to 12 Traditional Council areas within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal. The donation was acknowledged through a virtual ceremony. The beneficiaries are people who are unable to afford PPEs and have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The distribution is made possible through a partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and iSimangaliso Wetland Park and funding from the Japanese government.
According to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Integrated Management Plan 2017-2021, the Wetland Park falls mostly within the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, ranked as the second poorest and most deprived municipality in the country. Over 80% of households live below the poverty line and an estimated 13% of the economically active population is formally employed. This situation has been worsened by the slowdown of tourism activities due to eruption/emergence of COVID-19. The area is 98% rural, with high unemployment rate due to an almost complete lack of industrialisation.
“It is a privilege for UNDP to be able to contribute towards the response to COVID-19 by ensuring that all can protect themselves. We are also happy to know that this initiative will strengthen relationships between DEFF, iSimangaliso, and the traditional authorities. We thank the Government of Japan for supporting this initiative” said Dr Ayodele Odusola, Resident Representative of UNDP South Africa during his address at the virtual handover ceremony.
As South Africa recovers from the peak in COVID-19 cases in July, the country is currently experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 second wave infections, with 836,764 confirmed cases and 22,747 fatalities to date. The increase in infection has been attributed to a lack of adherence to safety measures like wearing of masks and regularly washing of hands. It is therefore imperative that communities be protected, especially those in far flung rural areas to ensure that no one is left behind.
These communities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, where lockdown has resulted in reduced employment and fewer business opportunities. Because the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal is a popular holiday destination for both international and domestic tourism over the festive season, rural communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the virus. The PPE donation from UNDP will ensure that these rural communities are equipped with the tools they need to stay safe as they rebuild their lives in the wake of the humanitarian crisis
“We would like to express our immeasurable gratitude to UNDP for partnering with us in dealing with some of the social ills of our communities. Through this partnership, our local communities will value the existence of the Park through which this assistance arose and continue to protect it.” said Mr Sibusiso Bukhosini, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. These PPEs will ensure safety of our people as some of them leave their homes in the quest to make ends meet through their small businesses in towns and other suitable places, he added.
For more information, or media interviews please contact:
• United Nations Development Programme: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0718926004
• ISimangaliso: email@example.com / 0605332082
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