Supply of COVID-19 personal protective equipment to rural communities

Communities received PPEs such disposable and reusable masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers and sanitiser stands

Through the CCFN implemented Poverty Oriented Support to Community Conservation in Namibia Project and its collaboration with the Conservation Relief and Resilience and Recovery Facility, CBNRM stakeholders (government, donors, NGOs, individuals) have stepped up to avail support to various Community Based Organizations within Namibia’s registered conservancies and community forests.

In an effort to ensure continued game guarding, patrolling, conflict investigations, and other operational activities are done in a COVID safe manner and are compliant to the WHO and Namibian government guidelines, the project committed to provide disposable and reusable masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers and sanitiser stands to conservancies, community forests and related business centres linked to CBNRM.

A study carried out by the University of Namibia and Bath Spa University two months after the first case of the virus was detected in Namibia indicated a severe loss of income and the decrease of capacity to tackle poaching and human-wildlife conflict as some of the immediate key effects. Culturally unlike urban areas, communal households rely on daily interactive activities for their upkeep. The correct and consistent use of PPE would form the backbone of the community’s protective measures. At a time of reduced income and in villages where the majority leave below the poverty line, additional hygiene requirements placed an additional burden on the people’s pockets. It is for these reasons that this external help to provide PPE was critical.

To date, in addition to about 10 000 disposal masks, a total of approximately 187, 000 re-usable masks and buffs have been distributed to all 86 conservancies and 43 community forests. This is to ensure that game guards, conservancy employees and community members go about their necessary daily routines in a COVID safe way. Furthermore over 13, 400 liters of sanitizer have gifted to conservancy and community forest offices, schools, traditional authorities, clinics and other places of potential gatherings in rural Namibia. Of the estimated 227, 941 residents in Namibia’s communal conservancies, this support has directly reached at least 187, 000 people at grassroots level, benefiting over 82% of the total conservancy members. The support has to date come at a cost of N$ 4,9million and has carried these vulnerable societies through the various COVID waves the country has experienced. Communities continue to be supported on a regular basis and at the time of writing the project team was assessing the need for another round of supply of sanitisers.

The effort to support conservancies with PPE has also resulted in extended benefits to conservancy members and other locals due to the way the project went about procuring re-usable masks. The project stakeholders saw that it was necessary to distribute materials required to produce masks such as fabrics, thread, needles, and sewing machines for some local tailors in communities including to informal business and vocational colleges, as a contribution to helping their businesses and enhancing their livelihoods. Consequently, over 200 local tailors, mostly woman have benefited from the tender through this imitative.

“When COVID-19 hit hard, my business slowed down rapidly, and I was left hopeless with no means to provide for my family. The request from CCFN to produce masks brought my business back to life and the income has made a huge difference in our lives. From the money that I got I paid my children’s school fees and bought food. I also bought a double size freezer from which I am now selling ice lollies to make extra income and a car washing machine which will be invested to start a carwash business for my husband to make extra income”. Says Erica Kamendu from Erongo Region.

Operationalized in June 2018 and officially launched in February 2020, CCFN has hit the ground running in its endeavors to provide some needed support to CBNRM institutions, and its impact is already being felt on the ground.

As you know, the long term objective of CCFN is to finance CBNRM’s long term sustainability and step into the existing funding gap. The pandemic has undoubtedly made our targets more difficult as at an opportune time, we undoubtedly have to take stock of its effects and reassess the needs for recovery and resilience. Whilst a challenging situation to find ourselves in just 1.5 years after operation, a situation like this is one of the reasons why there was a need for an institution like CCFN and the necessity to build longer term and sustainable solutions within CBRNM. As we continue to pursue our long-term targets, we are proud to have responded to the immediate critical support needs in these and other many small ways said CCFN’s CEO Mr. Tapiwa Makiwa. We hope this and other activities we are currently undertaking will aid the Namibian CBNRM program to come out of the COVID situation intact, with minimal losses and having preserved not only the health but also the livelihoods of the communities”, said CCFN’s CEO Mr. Tapiwa Makiwa.

Victoria Amon