At the best of times, food insecurities are a daily challenge for the remote Tsutsubega and Gogomoga communities – how much more so during lockdown?
The isolation of these communities that live along a remote section of the veterinary fence line dividing Maun’s populated surrounds from the Okavango Delta, is extreme. Not only are their year-round livelihood options limited, but in the flood season, they are completely cut off from all support services.
The vulnerability of these communities was uppermost in the mind of our &Beyond Botswana team as the COVID-19 restrictions took effect, and an on-site assessment was done. The findings were sobering: with the lockdown restrictions in place, people were starving. Urgent intervention was needed.
Africa Foundation, our collaborative community partner, was quick to step up to the mark and establish a dedicated short-term food relief project for these communities as part of their resilience-building Africa Foundation COVID-19 Campaign. Working with the community leadership, a total of 143 families within these two communities were identified as a priority. Skipper Mareja, &Beyond’s Regional Human Resource Manager, had this to say about the project:
This intervention was the first of its kind for Africa Foundation in Botswana, but against the background of the prevailing need, it was an absolute necessity.
In order to maximise the funds received, and after further consultation with the community committees, the decision was made to go with food parcels containing a selection of the most important basic food items, and quantities that could sustain each household for at least a month.
Each food pack contained:
12.5 kg maize meal | 10 kg rice | 5 kg sorghum | 2 l cooking oil | 3 kg macaroni | 750 ml tomato sauce | 750 ml mayonnaise | 5 kg sugar | 250 g tea/coffee | 250 g coffee creamer
In line with Africa Foundation’s protocol of communication with all stakeholders, both government and media were advised of the initiative, and on the official distribution day, council members and a media contingent joined the &Beyond Xaranna team for the proceedings.
Is there a formal trade or partnership agreement between &Beyond and these communities? No, but then obligation was never what this project was about. It was, pure and simple, a gesture of care for those we knew to be in trouble. And we could never have done it alone. Thank you to each and every donor and stakeholder that made it all possible.