The 4Cs Continue: Supporting Community During Crisis
While Covid-19 brings the world as we know it to its knees, there is one ray of hope that seems to shine brighter each day. As George Monbiot recently said in a Guardian article, “The apocalypse and zombie movies got it wrong.” We’re not tearing each other apart, looking out for ourselves, or turning inwards. For the most part, the world is proving that we value community above and beyond anything else. We want to work together, and we want to support the most vulnerable. Most of us long for this mindset to continue well beyond this crisis, and how we travel is no exception.
Collectively, Long Run members use funds from tourism to improve the lives of over 750,000 people. From poachers-turned-rangers in the wilds of Kenya’s Laikipia to hospitality training for young locals on Indonesia’s remote Sumba island, tourism is a means to carve out a healthier and happier future for everyone. This doesn’t mean simply creating jobs and economic opportunities, it’s about filling in the gaps of government provision, identifying long-term projects that can be led by communities, and developing first-class travel experiences around the needs of local people.
A genuine commitment underpins each member’s relationship with surrounding communities, from providing small business loans to inspiring the next-gen of conservationists and empowering woman. The world’s most sustainable lodges and destinations are proof that healthy ecosystems and thriving business are intrinsically linked to the well-being of local people.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that in a time of crisis community that comes first. Through our #NatureNeverStops campaign, we’ve been celebrating how the natural world is thriving and nature’s soothing continuity provides comfort in unsettling times. It is also shedding light on how each of the 4Cs continues; most importantly, a connection and commitment to people.
Here’s how Long Run members echo that global glimmer of hope:
Sasaab Provides Masks and Sets Up Hand-washing Stations, Kenya
The Safari Collection’s Sasaab Lodge has been setting up a simple hand washing station called Tippy Taps. The Tippy Tap is a hands-free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever which reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap. It uses only 40 millilitres of water to wash your hands versus 500 millilitres using a mug. Additionally, the used “waste” water can go to plants or back into the water table.
Sasaab is also handing out laminated fliers in the local language to explain what physical distancing (a cow’s length!) is and the dangers of COVID-19. Sustainability Manager Mark Boyd comments, “We have a team of five and a vehicle going around the community, and we aim to build 100 tippy taps in total. We’re on 60 so far. The team also provide education on Covid-19 and how to reduce transmission each day.”
Sasaab has also partnered with Shofco’s women’s empowerment program in Nairobi to produce cloth facemasks, which it is distributing to staff and surrounding communities. The program employs women who would otherwise not have an income at the moment.
Kualoa Creates a Crisis Farmers Market, Hawaii
The 4,000 wild and windswept acres that make up Kualoa Ranch is often the backdrop for Hollywood movies, but today the ranch is turning its hand to feeding the local community.
Kualoa has been ramping up its agricultural operations, including growing fruits and vegetables, in the past five years. It’s also made more of an effort to focus on providing local food. Grass-fed cattle no longer get shipped to the mainland, and the piggery offers the local population with environmentally-friendly pork. Rather than hosing cement floors and maintaining waste lagoons, Kualoa produces compost and organic waste from its farming operations.
With a renewed sense of purpose, and the backing of community members, partners, and customers, producing food that cares for the land and community is now central to the initiative Kualoa Grown. A new order and delivery system, in line with Covid-19 hygiene standards, is delivering fresh food each week. Sustainability manager, Stephanie Mock, comments, “Market day (as Friday is now known), is a time that our team and our community can feel the community connection, even if we are all 6+ feet from each other and wearing gloves and face masks. To see our customers’ smiles and hear their gratitude continues to motivate and inspire our team to grow, process, and sell new products motivates us to continue helping our neighbours.”
Sumba Hospitality Foundation Provides Support to those Most in Need, Indonesia
The Sumba Hospitality Foundation (SHF) is a hospitality training school and eco-hotel. Although both are closed at the moment, staff are still on-site, and the organisation continues to provide support to the surrounding community, especially where government support is lacking.
Here are some of the ways they’ve been taking action:
– The SHF team has prepared litres of homemade hand sanitiser, combining alcohol with other ingredients. A video tutorial of the recipe has been distributed to staff, the communities and other foundations on the island.
– SHF collected money through donations from local businesses and bought three fibre containers for 1100 litres of water each to create a hand-washing station with liquid soap in front of two of the most important markets and the main hospital.
– SHF is now organising local tailors to make 5000 mouth masks from cloth to distribute to those most at-risk (elderly and people with poor health). These have the added benefit of creating less waste than the disposable masks (which are not available anyway), and the linen can be washed with detergent. While it’s not a perfect solution, a doctor clarified that this was better than nothing to prevent the spreading.
Estancia Pampa Grande Takes Every Precaution, Argentina
In an untouched valley on the old Inca trail 150km south of Salta, Estancia Pampa Grande holds 74,000-acres of rivers, grasslands and hills. It’s wonderfully cut off from the world, and the valley and its inhabitants have maintained a traditional way of life.
While this is helpful for isolation, it can make it harder to implement changes to prevent the spread of the virus. Recognising the challenge, owner Rodolphe de Spoelberch took action to protect the community early on, “I think it’s crucial to start educating communities about social distancing before the crisis reaches them. It is not an easy task. In Argentina, and especially in the country, three generations of the same family live together and share everything – even a Maté metal drinking straw.”
The Ranch manager has explained to the community what will need to happen if a Covid-19 case arises nearby, and how to take action to stop that happening. The ranch has also suggested a re-ordering of houses so that older people are better isolated. By reorganising the procurement of supplies, and selling goods at cost price, the ranch has been able to persuade local people not to travel for cheaper food or goods to reduce the risk of infection. Rodolphe comments, “It’s a painstaking process but prudent. It’s important to have some foresight.”
Borana Directs Funds to Mobile Clinic, Kenya
One of Borana’s key priorities at this time is to keep its mobile clinic going. The clinic, on average, treats 690 patients per month and travels over 1000km’s. The focus of the Borana Mobile Clinic is to provide basic health care, health lectures, HIV Aids awareness, antenatal advice, child immunisation programmes and family planning to all members of the local community. During the Covid-19 crisis, the clinic is also providing general health and hygiene talks and information. The clinic team consists of two nurses and a driver; together they visit 10 communities on a two-week rotation.
Eloise Best from Borana Conservancy comments, “Given the current crisis we are facing, and the lack of basic health care in remote communities, we are doing all we can to keep this small but impactful health project running. This is our top priority for the moment.”