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Accepted Paper:

The Socioeconomic effects of Covid and Lockdown on the ǂKhomani Bushman of South Africa.  
Julie Grant (University of Johannesburg)

Paper short abstract:

ǂKhomani Bushmen survive from tourism, which was closed due to Covid. Initiatives were introduced to relieve the socioeconomic impact. This paper explores how Covid affected the ǂKhomani, if initiatives alleviated hardship and benefited those in need, and how initiatives affected community dynamics.

Paper long abstract:

Since a successful land claim in 1999/2000, many of the Indigenous ǂKhomani Bushmen of the southern Kalahari, South Africa, have struggled to survive given the scarcity of livelihood opportunities in this desert environment. With the involvement of government and NGOs, wildlife conservation, and wildlife and cultural tourism, have been encouraged, with it being purported that such industries will provide earning and employment opportunities. Prior to the Covid pandemic, the benefits of these industries were meagre. Once Covid arrived, a national hard lockdown was introduced. Travel restrictions were implemented with provincial/ provincial borders closed. The hospitality and tourism industry was also closed down. At this time, many ǂKhomani involved in tourism were affected; some sought new livelihood strategies such as chopping down trees to sell wood. This had a detrimental effect on the environment so was stopped - once again the individuals had no income. As the country gradually re-opened, travel and tourism continued to be negatively affected intermittently. In response, government, NGOs and private individuals introduced initiatives to relieve the socioeconomic impact of the lockdown. Some aimed to support people in need, in general, while others sought to benefit tourism businesses and individuals working in the industry. This paper explores how Covid and the subsequent lockdown, affected the ǂKhomani. It also considers if the aforementioned initiatives alleviated the resulting socioeconomic hardships and the extent to which the programmes benefited those in need. It then contemplates the somewhat unexpected effect that the initiatives had on community dynamics, as underlying tensions surfaced.

Panel P048
The impacts of Covid-19 on tourism and conservation in dryland communities