As numerous South and Western Cape communities battle to deal with the devastating effects of the storms and fires that raged last week, Vodacom has joined relief efforts to help those affected. The telecommunications giant has set up a R20 million disaster relief fund that will go towards providing much-needed support and aid when catastrophe strikes.
Vodacom has allocated R10 million from the disaster recovery fund, mostly to help rebuild or repair damaged schools. The company has and will also assist with distributing blankets, food and water to the affected areas.
Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub says: ‘The rebuilding of schools approach is in line with our standing commitment to supporting education that is at the core of the Vodacom Foundation’s CSI efforts. Ubuntu is one of the values that we embrace at Vodacom and, as such, immediate reaction to a plea for assistance was an instinctive response. We wish those affected strength through this difficult time and commend all our emergency responders for their selfless efforts in aid of others.’
The company has already deployed 1 200 starter pack SIM cards loaded with airtime to disaster relief personnel in Knysna to enable better communication and emergency response.
The Knysna fires also affected cellular networks, causing community members to struggle to connect with their loved ones. Vodacom has been working around the clock to keep its network’s sites up, most of which are now running on generators.
‘We have also set up public cellphone charging stations and Wi-Fi hotspots at various sites where assistance is needed, including the Knysna Joint Operations Control Centre. We have deployed about 40 phones with airtime to the necessary disaster task team leaders, as well as distributing 600 cellphone charger power banks. We’ve also provided 25 laptops, 30 tablets and data to be used by volunteers on the humanitarian recovery team,’ shares Joosub.