AAMEG Africa Awards 2020: Innovation in Corporate Social Development Winner – Base Resources
By AAMEG | 5 November 2020
BASE RESOURCES COVID COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Base Resources is an Australian based, African focused, mineral sands producer and developer.
Base Resources was founded and listed on the ASX in October 2008. The Company listed on the UK’s AIM in 2013. The Company operates the Kwale Operation in Kwale County, Kenya, and is developing the Toliara Project in Toliara, Madagascar.
Base Resources produces a suite of mineral sands products namely ilmenite, rutile and zircon. Base Resources is recognised as a leader in the African resources industry with a track record of excellence in safety, community engagement and environmental stewardship.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Kenya and Madagascar, common issues across both countries included insufficient clean water, poorly resourced health services, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the fact that much of the population survives on a day-to-day basis. In Kwale County, it was estimated that 40% to 50% of the population was adversely affected by the associated economic downturn and subsequent impacts on food security.
In both locations, Base was invited to join the government led response to COVID-19. In Kenya, Base Titanium (Base Resources’ subsidiary) was invited to participate in the Kwale COVID-19 Response Team, mandated by the Government of Kenya (GOK), together with the Kwale County Government and other partners, including the Kenya Red Cross Society. In Madagascar, Base Toliara (Base Resources’ subsidiary) was invited to join the government run Toliara Regional COVID Operational Centre along with other private companies, faith-based organisations and NGO’s.
In both situations’ Base Resources objectives were to:
- Support the most vulnerable populations in our local communities
- Support local and national governments
- Strengthen our reputation as a responsible partner to Kenya and Madagascar
To achieve these objectives Base Resources initiated a number of phased community support programs in both countries that focused on education, installation of hygiene infrastructure, the provision of medical equipment and food distribution.
To date, Base Resources has invested over US$1.7m working with various government, NGO, religious organisations and private partners to:
- Donate 100 high flow oxygen ventilators to the Kenyan government
- Donate 82,000 face masks
- Donate 245 thermometer guns
- Provide 22,000 food and sustenance packages to households in Kenya and over 148 tonnes of rice, vegetables and other staples to households in Madagascar
- Construct and install over 400 handwashing stations of various sizes in high traffic areas or institutions
- Provide training and communication materials to raise awareness of COVID-19
- Establish a face-mask manufacturing facility in Toliara which hires local women to produce around 5,000 face masks per week which are then donated to the local community.
Base Resources worked extensively with a range of stakeholders including governments, community leaders, private business and NGO’s to ensure that community issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were identified, appropriate programs developed, and solutions effectively implemented.
The suite of programs that was developed and implemented was novel as they took a holistic approach to support communities to manage the impacts of COVID-19, combining measures to:
- prevent the spread of infection (hygiene stations, training and education campaigns)
- support the management of active cases (provision of PPE and medical equipment)
- support communities affected by the associated outcomes of the pandemic (food packages and employment programs)
This suite of initiatives enabled Base Resources COVID response programs to be both broadly spread, therefore supporting a wide portion of the population, while some elements could be tightly targeted and efficient, providing support to the most vulnerable households or populations.
For example, medical suppliers were donated to the national or county health services to be used widely, while in Kwale Base Resources worked with the Red Cross, local leaders and the Kwale County Government to identify vulnerable households to receive food packages.
In Kenya, Base Resources was recognised by President Kenyatta with a Madaraka (Independence) Day national award for the Company’s contribution to the COVID-19 response.
Collaboration and Engagement
To ensure maximum effectiveness, Base Resources COVID-19 community programs required the Company to collaborate with a range of communities, national and county governments as well as business and NGO partners.
In regard to donations of materials, the objective wasn’t to just provide food or medical packages but to ensure the most vulnerable in the community were supported and that the donated materials were utilised as intended.
In Kenya, Base worked with the the Kwale County Government, the Government of Kenya, Kenya Red Cross Society, civil society organisations and local community leaders to develop a robust process that identified vulnerable households, vetted target beneficiaries, ensured compliance with humanitarian standards of food distribution, ensured compliance with COVID-19 movement restrictions, managed the actual food donation, ensured security and recorded all activity. In total, over 22,000 food packages were provided by Base Resources and delivered safely and securely to vulnerable families in communities surrounding the Company’s activities.
In Madagascar, Base partnered with the Toliara regional COVID Operational Centre, the regional health directorate, the Toliara Hospital and nine health centres to ensure that medical supplies and equipment were secured and distributed. In total Base donated two oxygen concentrators, PPE, 5,000 surgical facemasks, over 200kg of disinfectant and over 180L of hand sanitizer.
The donations of medical equipment also helped address the increase in the number of cases reported during the months of June and July 2020, in alignment with the government’s public health response. These contributions played a decisive role in the government’s response to the pandemic, particularly in Toliara and its neighbouring communes.
Another initiative in Toliara involved Base partnering with Toliara regional COVID Operational Centre, the Red Cross, the regional Association of Journalists and multiple radio and tv stations to produce and broadcast an extensive COVID-19 education campaign. This campaign included radio and tv advertisements, printed posters distributed in various communities and hand washing demonstrations, all in three different local dialects.
This initiative helped raise awareness of the pandemic in regional communities with the view to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect local populations from the risk of infections. Following the sensitisation campaign, an increased awareness of symptoms, prevention and treatment measures among local communities was observed.
In Toliara communities were affected by the general economic downturn and an inability to access basic protective equipment such as face masks. To rectify this Base, and its partners, developed an initiative that addresses both issues in one solution. Base partnered with the Regional Directorate of Health, the Anglican Church and some private companies to establish a sewing workshop that would produce high quality reusable facemasks.
This involved training and employing around 50 local seamstresses to produce approximately 5,000 washable face masks per week which were then donated to local communities.
To date 48,000 masks have been produced and distributed to communities through the government and the Red Cross, having a direct impact on the population of Toliara and surrounding communes. In terms of capacity building, this project has enabled free training in tailoring and sewing for the 50 women involved as well as the creation of 50 local jobs in vulnerable communities. From an economic standpoint, the initiative led to the promotion of local resources through the purchase of raw materials from local suppliers and generated income support for the most vulnerable people living in the area.
In Kenya, liaison with the national government identified a critical shortage of ventilators. In response Base joined a partnership with Stanbic Bank, Centum, Gulf Power, Valar Frontier and Africa Practice to source and import 192 high flow oxygen ventilators. Upon arrival in Kenya the ventilators were donated to the Kenyan Ministry of Health. The Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Hon. Mutahi Kagwe conveyed the government’s appreciation for the donation towards helping Kenyans during this period noting that the contribution will go a long way in assisting the Government in its efforts to mitigate the pandemic across the county.
Although many of Base Resources community support programs highlighted in this submission are in response to a specific event it is envisaged that some of these initiatives will continue past the current pandemic due to them meeting an ongoing societal need.
In particular, in both countries there is an ongoing need to improve sanitation and hygiene resources. In Kenya, community education on the importance of sanitation and hygiene needs to continue and Base will continue to support this through our ongoing Community Health Volunteers initiative which provides volunteers with training and materials to help educate their communities on health related matters. The installed hygiene stations (water tanks and soap pumps) will also likely become a permanent fixture to help improve hygiene in areas where access to fresh water can often be limited.
In Madagascar, Base is reviewing how the hygiene education campaign can become a more permanent program, as there is still improvement to be had in that area. Equally the installed hand washing stations and hand washing demonstrations will become permanent programs as there is a need to improve general hygiene. Plans are already in progress to expand the hand washing facilities and education to all public and private schools with technical training for teachers.
Another initiative trialled during the pandemic that is being reviewed for longer term use is the “Trash 4 Cash” program. This program funded local Kwale youth to collect and deposit rubbish thereby creating means of economic support in a declining economy. The program resulted in over 5,600kg of rubbish being removed from the main highway and the local beach.