14 October 2020

Tongaat Hulett and the eThekwini Municipality have formed a partnership to donate food hampers to child headed households in and around the Tongaat area in commemoration of World Food Day 2020.

As many countries and communities around the world struggle to deal with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of World Food Day launched a call for all social partners and governments to support the most vulnerable communities and make the food systems more sustainable.

In response to this call, eThekwini Municipality and Tongaat Hulett took a decision to partner and focus their support on mainly child headed households.

Nkonzo Mhlongo, Corporate Affairs Executive of Tongaat Hulett Sugar, said the company was committed to creating value for all its stakeholders.

“Our decision to partner with eThekwini Municipality was to ensure there was no duplication of effort and that our interventions targeted the poorest of the poor. This partnership will enable Tongaat Hulett to respond effectively to the significant social challenges in the eThekwini area.

“It has also enabled us to create awareness programmes and support initiatives centered around the prevention of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the local communities and our employees,” she said

A hands-on approach was adopted during the identification of the child headed households and other vulnerable community members, with community-based development workers being central to this process. The majority of the selected children and youth were from challenging environments and had limited access to adequate sanitation and water. Many of the children and youth were dependent on the State grant as well as money sent by their family members or relatives working outside their communities.

Commemorating World Food Day, Sam Maphumulo, Regional Coordinator, Community Participation and Action Support Unit of eThekwini Municipality, said that in the second quarter in South Africa, a total of 2.2 million lost their jobs. “COVID-19 has imposed a huge burden on communities, particularly child headed households and low-income families, making them vulnerable to household food insecurity.

“World Food Day has given the Municipality the opportunity to partner with companies such as Tongaat Hulett in order to support vulnerable children and households,” he said

One of the beneficiaries of the food hampers was a youngster named Sipho (not his real name). He is the eldest child and is responsible for five children ranging from the ages of 15 to the age of 4 years. In 2018, his life changed forever when his mother passed away after a short illness.

Sipho said: “While my extended family is around, they also have their own struggles. They are all unemployed and certainly could not afford an additional six mouths to feed. I therefore took the decision to leave school in Grade 10 to support my siblings, which I do through fishing and piecemeal jobs. The support from Tongaat Hulett and eThekwini Municipality will take away the stress of wondering where our next meal is going to come from.”

Tongaat Hulett also partnered with the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on World Food Day. The company donated 300, 2.5kg bags of sugar which will be included as part of the food parcel to be distributed by the Minister of Agriculture, Thoko Didiza. The Department is a strategic partner of Tongaat Hulett on issues relating to sustainable agriculture, farmer development and sustainability, and the social and economic wellbeing of rural communities in the areas where the company operates.