Thousands of children in KwaZulu-Natal affected by the July social unrest and the ongoing effects of Covid-19 benefit from Zero2Five’s largescale relief programme.
Following the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, local NPO Zero2Five Trust has been asked by several funders what the consequences on the ground were for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector. They assessed that the unrest has had no direct impact on the infrastructure of any of the 198 KZN ECD centres on their support system insofar as they were spared from any break-ins or looting incidents. The unrest however, had a direct impact on most centres with regards to the costs of food, the availability of food and the accessibility thereof.
Significantly, 68% of the ECD centres were not able to get their regular food supplies. The July unrest has exacerbated an already critical situation in terms of extremely high levels of food insecurity due to Covid-19 lockdowns, inaccessibility of National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) meals, high levels of unemployment and widespread poverty, especially in the rural areas in four KZN Districts Zero2Five serves.
Covid-19 isn’t just crushing under resourced, fragile health systems, it is attacking the way children access their education, the way their families earn an income to cover their immediate needs, and how safe they feel in their homes, communities, and countries alike. A massive pledge from the LEGO Foundation in August came just at the right time to boost Zero2Five’s nutrition programme for KZN’s young children for six months on-site feeding plus 3500 wonderful food parcels to send home for the December holidays.
“The LEGO Foundation is boosting our nutrition programme with an additional 1.2 million breakfasts over those six months,” said Julika Falconer of Zero2Five. In addition, Durban’s Victor Daitz Foundation came on board to send 3500 children home with a 5 kg bag of highly fortified breakfast porridge, the Solon Foundation strengthened the Zero2Five team and funded an extra salary for this massive, 6-month campaign and Willowton Group ensured that soaps were added for the supported households to keep up hygiene standards during the holidays and brace the fourth wave of Covid and Marriott Investment Managers added much needed extra protein in form of peanut butter jars.
Zero2Five co-tenants on the leafy Bellevue Camus in Kloof helped store and pack no less than 30 tons of food items and packed the same in a big CSI event into 1750 super solid shopper bags from Durban based Uzwelo Bags, recycled from PET bottles. The balance of 1750 bags were packed by the Winterton Superspar as their special contribution to this massive outreach.
This support will assist well over 3500 families in rural KZN and help bridge the gap of missing school meals during the long holidays. Food parcels will be delivered to rural ECD centres in uThukela, iLembe, King Cetshwayo districts KZN Kerry Kassen, director at the LEGO Foundation in South Africa says, “The long-term impact that the recent violence in KZN and Covid-19 lockdowns will have on our children is of great concern to us. Trauma counselling, food security and support to the ECD services that do so much for so many of our children, with very little support, is our immediate priority. We are proud to be part of the efforts to help support so many organisations working directly with children and families to provide help when it’s most needed. We hope that the youngest members of our country will be able to get back to being children again, as quickly as possible.”