The Botswana Red Cross Society has utilised Coca-Cola Foundation’s $50,000 (approximately P600, 000) donation to assist hundreds of vulnerable villagers in the Kweneng West district.
Coca-Cola Foundation made the funds available to the humanitarian organisation in May and the donation has already begun to benefit hundreds of people in different villages in Kweneg West.
The three phased project, is already 90 percent complete and received considerable buy-in from the village leadership, according to Botswana Red Cross Society chief executive officer, Kutlwano Mukokomani.
He said they identified some villages in Kweneng West as the beneficiaries of the project.
“From the Red Cross, we got findings from the 2015/2016 Botswana Multi Topic Household survey conducted by Statistics Botswana. It indicated that Kweneng West had the highest incidences of poverty in the country, hence the Red Cross wanted to do this project in Kweneng,” Mukokomani said.
The selection of beneficiaries was narrowed down to Motokwe and Tsetseng, with guidance from the Kweneng District council.
Letlhakeng and two settlements, Matagapswe and Mmaothzate are also benefitting from the project.
The villages are supported through food and hygiene packages, water and information on COVID-19.
“We exist to augment government services, if there is a gap that we need to fill, we assist. Hence you see us partnering with government officials in this project,” Mukokomani said.
He said Red Cross volunteers within the affected villages were on the ground, assisting with the distribution of food, hygiene and information packages.
The volunteers distribute hygiene packs, including hand washing buckets. There are water tanks, as a way of encouraging adherence to COVID-19 health protocols.
Mukokomani said thus far, 1,000 individuals have benefitted from the project. He said upon the completion of the program, around 5,000 would have benefitted.
He said they targeted 153 households in Tsetseng and Motokwe, to benefit from the food packages. At the moment, 895 individuals have benefited from the food distribution. Under hygiene packs, about 193 households have been targeted in Tsetseng, Matagatswe and Motokwe, which translates to 1,015 individuals to benefit from the hygiene packs.
There are five water tanks with a capacity of 5,000 litres each.
“There will be positioned where water is
Mukokomani said the messages have been translated into vernacular languages to enable villagers to comprehend the COVID-19 messages. Hundreds of flyers have been distributed in the village.
Botswana Red Cross Society Health and Care Coordinator, Neo Mogowa said a cross section of the vulnerable population has benefitted.
“We wanted to show inclusivity and diversity. There are females, males, those with disability, orphans and vulnerable children, elderly and migrants. These are special groups that are affected differently. So we were promoting social inclusion and diversity in our programming,” Mogowa said.
On the progress of the project, Mukokomani said the reports from the ground are positive.
“We are getting a lot of positive feedback from the community. They really want us to continue. Although it’s about COVID-19, there are other issues, that are socio-economic that might come through these. There is buy-in from the villagers and the government. We have seen an improvement in the area. Water is a challenge in the area. Remember, water, during COVID-19 is very important.”
Mogowa added while there is supply of water, there is need for education, and the promotion of hygiene.
“We did not impose technical knowledge on them, we were engaging them,” she said.
Mukokomani said community engagement was key to ensure they succeed in changing behaviours during COVID-19.
“Those three villages you will see that they do not have a recorded (COVID-19) case, to the best of my knowledge. May be it’s also because of the information they now have and the hygiene basics. Those communities, you realise that there are those below the poverty datum line, so we bought these hygiene packs to ensure that they (villlagers) are in humane state to defend themselves against COVID-19,” Mukokomani said.