KZN firms join forces to tackle COVID-19 and hunger

23 April 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018778

Agriculture & Sugar
Education & Training
Packaging
Petrochemicals
Plastics & Rubber

WITH the coronavirus stretching hygiene and nutrition resources to breaking point, several KwaZulu-Natal businesses have banded together to fund and distribute thousands of hand sanitiser kits and instant porridge packs.

Tongaat Hulett, NCP Alcohols, Spring Lights Gas (SLG), Nampak Rigid Plastics and Southern Lodestar Foundation have joined forces to create a project called Committed to Community: Health Partners during COVID-19.

The aim is to donate 250 000 litres of hand sanitiser to all provincial hospitals and clinics throughout KZN with the assistance of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. It will also ensure that 60 000kg of instant porridge is distributed in areas with children in desperate need for support.

The Department of Education feeds 2.4 million pupils under the school feeding programme and 1.3 million have been defined as vulnerable, a situation made significantly worse by the closure of schools because of COVID-19.

Tongaat Hulett has four sugar mills in KZN and works extensively with farmers in the province, many of whom are small-scale and land reform growers. The company will supply the molasses for the manufacturing of the sanitiser and make use of its milling facilities to distribute the sanitiser to clinics and hospitals.

“Our top priority as Tongaat Hulett is the health and safety of all our stakeholders. As a company, we have put measures in place to limit the effect of COVID-19 on our employees and stakeholders in all six countries where we operate. We have also put in place sound business systems to ensure that business continues during the lockdown period,” said Simon Harvey, MD Sugar Operations.

NCP Alcohols produces fermented alcohol to various industries, including pharmaceutical markets, and will contribute to the production of the alcohol, blending of the sanitiser and drumming as part of the joint effort.

SLG supplies gas nationally with most of its customers situated in KZN, providing environmentally clean and cost-effective energy and tailored technical service to this project. The energy used to produce the alcohol in the sanitizer will be supplied by SLG.

Nampak Rigid Plastics is the largest diversified packaging manufacturer in the region and are contributing the drums into which the sanitizer will be packed. The company invests significant time and resources into the development of sustainable products and also provides general support to communities located near its facilities.

Southern Lodestar Foundation assists with nutritional intervention amongst the most vulnerable communities in South Africa and neighbouring countries. The Foundation has partnered with Millhouse International to develop a highly nutritious instant porridge – high in protein, vitamins and minerals.

The rollout of the Committed to Community: Health Partners during COVID-19 project will take place with the cooperation of the Department of Health in KZN.

“COVID-19 has brought to focus the importance of public private partnerships in addressing societal challenges in the province,” KZN Department Head, Dr Sandile Tshabalala.

“The sanitiser will slow the spread of the virus and the instant porridge will be allocated to children and vulnerable households. As a department, we welcome these significant contributions, and continue to encourage all our social partners to join hands with us in fighting the pandemic.”

The initial focus is the communities around the Maidstone, Darnall, Amatikulu and Felixton sugar mills on the North Coast.

Tongaat Hulett has allocated R445 000 for the procurement and distribution of 7 500 hand sanitiser kits containing antibacterial soap, hand sanitiser and tissues. These will be distributed through the Tongaat clinic, Ndwedwe clinic, Stanger hospital, Ngwelezane hospital and Catherine Booth hospital which are frequented by Tongaat Hulett employees, their families and stakeholders.

The Southern Lodestar Foundation which supports communities in the fields of health, nutrition, physical activity and nutrition education, will distribute 2 000 instant porridge packs to indigent children living around the five health centres.

André Redinger, founder of the foundation, said the closure of schools and the current lockdown posed a massive problem for children who depended on the daily meal they received at school.

Tshabalala said his department welcomed the donations, adding they would go a long way in limiting the spread of the coronavirus and in helping vulnerable children access nourishment.

“We encourage other stakeholders in the province to join hands with the department in making our communities safe and healthy. Companies and stakeholders that are keen to contribute are welcome to contact the office of the HOD in the province.”

For other stories of businesses getting involved in the fight against COVID-19, see pages 4, 6, 7 and 10.

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