R10m for Kruger Park communities

9 June 2003

The Kruger National Park is to use a R10-million poverty relief grant from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to create more jobs, step up its skills training projects, and extend existing social ecology programmes to neighbouring communities.

Speaking at Mopani in the Kruger National Park at the official launch of the poverty relief project on Friday, acting park director Josias Chabani said some of the poorest communities in the country lived just a few metres from the boundaries of the wildlife sanctuary.

“This programme is important because it confronts the problems of inadequate staff accommodation and unemployment in these communities,” Chabani said.

Blake Schraader, head of the park’s contractor development programme, said the tenders for the building of new staff housing would be awarded to emerging local contractors trained by the park’s technical staff and that labourers would be recruited from nearby villages.

He said ongoing training would be given to the contractors, in order to help establish their businesses, where they could employ their own workers as part of a multiplying job-creation process. Among the skills that the contractors are being trained in are masonry, carpentry, plumbing and road drainage.

Schraader said he believed the contractors would successfully transfer these skills to other people in rural communities adjoining the park.

Piet du Plessis of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism said the R10-million grant was proof of the government’s commitment to the alleviation of poverty.

“The department would especially like to see women and disabled residents of the area benefitting from this job-creation programme,” said Du Plessis. “It’s exciting to see how the park’s management has grasped this opportunity, and entered into the spirit of community development.”