Mkasanga Foundation – Makupa
It saddens us to report that along with the destructive flooding in Zambia this year, COVID-19 has placed communities in Zambia under serious threat. Makupa Chongo, founder of the Mkasanga Foundation, which aims to provide education for underprivileged girls, is witnessing this plight first hand. Most of the food crops and livestock have been destroyed. With little to no access to store bought meat, and a lack of funds due to the COVID-19 induced economic downturn, the local wildlife is under threat of poaching, as people are turning to hunting as a means to survive. With the closure of tourism in the area, many people have lost employment.
The school girls on Makupa’s programme (two of whom are sponsored by CCFA) have studied hard this year and Makupa is confident that even with the disruption they will pass their grade 9 exams. If or when schools reopen, Makupa foresees that most children won’t be able to attend because their parents will be unemployed. Overall, social morale is low and communities are living in survival mode. Even amidst these life threatening challenges, Makupa is scheming up plans to support his community, but these plans will also require funding.
Makupa had planned to build a small grocer in his village to help mitigate poaching as a means of survival and to introduce a more sustainable/readily available source of meat. There is currently no butchery near the community. Meat is a staple in the traditional diet, and with the threat of flooding and other natural disasters, livestock is often destroyed. Makupa was planning to stock additional groceries that can help ensure consistent food supply and support healthy nutrition for adults and especially school children. Makupa would use profits generated from sales at the grocer to fund his education program. This is only one of Makupa’s dreams to revive his community – for now, his dreams must rest on paper.
Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT)
CCFA partner, Tusk Trust, has brought to our attention the increase in gender-based violence as a result of stringent COVID-19 containment procedures. Women face a high risk of contagion due to lack of potable water needed for hygiene measures. Women carry the burden of water collection in rural settings, walking for long distances to fetch water. In these communities women are typically marginalised in decision making and have minimal access to information. They are left feeling helpless and unsure of what measures to take to protect themselves, both against the virus and abuse.
Lack of access to medical services and food insecurity is experienced by both males and females, but effects are intensified in the case of women, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and nursing.
Poor health, collapse in tourism, market closures, loss of employment, rising living costs, degradation of natural resources (by illegal grazing, wildlife poaching, charcoal burning), no access to education, loss of aid support, livelihood stress and social instability are all contributing to a collapse in community and a deathly threat to human life.
During this tumultuous time, staying connected with communities is critical. NRT is bringing together key conservancy personnel and county representatives on a weekly basis to ensure the situation is monitored closely, in order to understand the full impact of this human plight. This strategy has enabled more effective communication during this time of crisis.
We hope these insights into the current challenges facing CCFA supported projects has increased your awareness around the effects of COVID-19 beyond South Africa, and into less fortunate communities. If you would like to help provide opportunities to youth through our Siyazenzela course, educate a girl child in Zambia, support conservation efforts for cranes in Rwanda or gorillas in Uganda, please get in touch with us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.