NGOs offer help to those in need during the Covid-19 outbreak.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, an emergency response group of NGOs has been offering aid to rural settlements and townships.

One of those emergency response groups is a partnership between the Initiative for Community Advancement (ICA) and Cederberg Matzikama AIDS Network (CMAN). 

The ICA, which mainly works with the youth in rural settlements, has been distributing and deploying Covid-19 related feeding schemes and preventative information to one community in Bergrivier called Eendekuil, on the west coast of Western Cape. 

The ICA has used the means of education and advocacy work in order to aid this community. Their next goal is to start a soup kitchen.

The director of the ICA, Jeremy Maarman, said, “The biggest issue we have observed in Bergrivier is that children are struggling because under lockdown they are not being fed by their school feeding programs.” 

CMAN, which normally runs wellness center’s for tuberculosis and HIV and Aids patients, has been aiding six rural towns and townships in the west coast of Western Cape.

The director of CMAN, Christian Oerson, said, “The towns that we have been servicing include, Paleishevel, Citrusdal, Redelinghuys, Clanwiliam, Eendekuil and Eelandskloof.”

A community in Clanwiliam being a part of the CMAN feeding scheme. Photo: Provided

A community in Clanwiliam being a part of the CMAN feeding scheme. Photo: Provided.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, they have been providing support for the homeless, feeding schemes and food parcels.

CMAN’s has had difficulty distributing food parcels lately because resources are at a shortage.

Focus is now being directed to the child-headed households and the elderly.  

Oerson, put emphasis on the need to also distribute sanitary pads to the young women in these towns. 

“The lack of sanitary pads is a pressing issue, because it is also a threat to a woman’s dignity. I have four daughters, and I’ve witnessed the pain they go through every month,” said Oerson.

Oerson is also concerned about the risk that will come with farm and factory workers migrating to Citrusdal for the season. 

“We are trying to organise immediate Covid-19 testing for the migrant workers, in order for them to be at a lower risk of contracting the virus while at work,” said Oerson. 

In response to the concerns around the effects that the lockdown has been having on rural towns, Maarman said, “People in rural towns may actually be at a lower risk of contracting Coronavirus in comparison to people living in the city, because they are already isolated.”

Oerson, offering a different perspective, said, “People in Clanwilliam don’t seem to know the seriousness of the situation. I’ve seen many social groupings on the streets.”

People living in townships are struggling to survive the lockdown period because they are unable to go to work and earn money. 

Unfortunately, NGO’s are unable to service every rural settlement and township in South Africa because their resources do not allow it. 

Eustina Mazire, a domestic worker living in Sunderland Ridge, a township in the southwest of Pretoria, says that the financial situation in her community is becoming dire. 

“We are struggling to get through the lockdown period, because our money has now run out. We cannot go to work, so we have no money to buy food,” said Mazire.

FEATURED IMAGE: CMAN feeding a community in Citrusdal during the Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: Provided