The Department of Social Development (DSD) has drafted directives on the coordination of food donations and other humanitarian relief efforts as the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The objectives of the directives is to ensure that the distribution of food parcels is done in a dignified manner that does not expose people to possible infection,” Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said on Friday.
The Minister noted the false allegations in the media that the DSD intends to prohibit the distribution of food parcels and cooked food to households and communities that are most in need of humanitarian relief.
“To comply with social distancing guidelines, the department has changed its modus operandi of serving cooked food at community centres to the door-to-door delivery or knock-and-drop system of pre-packed food to families.”
“However, over the last past weeks, the department has recognised and has been informed of several incidents of long queues and overcrowding at food-parcel distribution areas across the country,” the Minister said.
She said the current uncoordinated situation of the distribution of food parcels creates an environment for the spread of this deadly virus amongst the most vulnerable.
“Protecting our people against the possible infection of this deadly virus is as important as providing food relief. To avoid the recurrence of such incidents and to comply with the lockdown regulations, the department drafted directives on coordination of food donations and other humanitarian relief efforts,” she said.
The Minister said the rationale for these directives is that humanitarian responses to a crisis of this magnitude often involve large numbers of national and international organisations who work in the same geographical areas.
“Failure to work together amongst these organisations can lead to gaps in coverage and duplication of humanitarian relief efforts. It is for this reason that we encourage organisations that are involved in humanitarian assistance to work jointly with the government to ensure that there is a coordinated response and to eliminate opportunities for corruption and manipulation of these efforts.
“The need for collaboration and coordination of all humanitarian relief efforts between government and civil society organisations is premised on the understanding that the department alone cannot meet the unprecedented socioeconomic challenges brought about by this global pandemic,” she said.
The Minister said the department is working jointly with the sector to address the needs on the ground.
“There are more benefits to all of us working together to strengthen our national response and to reach those most in need wherever they are, than working in silos. The department has a long-standing partnership with civil society organisations. In many parts of our country, the Department is working jointly with the sector to address the needs on the ground.
“I take this opportunity to once again salute the speedy and courageous efforts of civil society organisations that continue to meet the basic needs of those most in need during this unprecedented times,” she said.