April 2022 – Empowers Africa, a non-profit and Wilderness Safaris’ fiscal 501c partner in the United States, recently donated USD10 000 from proceeds of their COVID-19 Relief Fundraiser to the Wilderness Wildlife Trust’s Maltahöhe Community Project. This grant has enabled Wilderness to provide sufficient food hampers to sustain 70 families of four for a month; the remainder of the funds will be used to set up a vegetable garden at the Rev. PA Schmidt Primary School.
Poverty is a major challenge in Namibia. With 34.9% of the population living on less than USD1 per day, the country has one of the largest income inequality gaps in the world – specifically in the Hardap Region where the Maltahöhe community is located.
Last year, Wilderness Safaris Namibia delivered 60 food parcels to Hardap’s Daweb Constituency Office as a short-term measure to mitigate the severe food shortage caused by prolonged drought, job losses due to COVID, and diminished buying power for the few fortunate enough to be self-employed. They also supplied unused uniforms and toys for the local primary school affiliated to Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness (CITW).
However, after further engagement with the community, it became obvious that not only was there still an immediate need for food parcels, but also for a more sustainable solution. It was thus decided that the USD10 000 grant received from Empowers Africa would be used in two ways: food parcels, and the establishment of an eco-garden at the school.
“This is a tremendous boost for our overall strategy to support our partner communities”, said Agnes Tjirare, Wilderness Namibia Impact Manager. “As if being in the grip of a major drought wasn’t bad enough, the residents’ opportunity to sell crafts through tourism came to an end when COVID-19 brought international travel to a standstill”.
As tourism is the main source of employment in the area, many people have been retrenched because of the pandemic. “Here, seasonal vegetables and a variety of fruit trees will contribute towards each child receiving at least one square meal per day to feed their bodies and their minds. Any surplus will go to the elderly and most vulnerable members of the community”, added Agnes.
Krista Krieger, Chair of the Board of Empowers Africa, noted, “We are delighted to be partnering with Wilderness Safaris to ensure that vulnerable members of the Maltahöhe community are receiving food parcels during these challenging times. We are also thrilled that funds will be applied to the formation of a small garden to create a sustainable food source for primary students at the Rev. PA Schmidt Primary School”.
To ensure the success and long-term sustainability of the vegetable garden, students and members of the local community will be given guidance on best practices for the tough desert conditions. Seed, saplings, fertiliser and equipment will be provided, and growing the garden will also form part of the school curriculum.
Report by Agnes Tjirare – Wilderness Namibia Impact Manager