Food parcels and water tankers were distributed to vulnerable communities bordering the Kruger National Park in both Limpopo and Mpumalanga on Friday.
The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, led the South African National Parks (SANParks) initiative, where 1 500 parcels were handed out.
The parcel included a bar of soap, cleaning detergents, masks and groceries.
"Because of the national Covid-19 lockdown, tourism, which is the main source of income for these communities, has dried up," Creecy said.
"This has affected the well-being of the families reliant on tourism for an income. That is why we decided to try and make their lives a little easier in these trying times."
Most national parks, if not all, are situated in rural areas affected by poverty, unemployment and a range of other socio- economic problems. These communities rely on the national parks for their survival, either through jobs or business opportunities, Creecy said.
"This period requires all of us to join hands to assist the most vulnerable members of society in our country."
Funding for the initiative has been sourced by the SANParks Honorary Rangers and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
A total of R6 million will be used to purchase food parcels, hygiene products, education materials and water tanks, which will help to support 7 500 families across the country.
"We will ensure that these donations benefit families that have been identified as vulnerable during this unprecedented time," said Creecy.
"We are aware that children, unemployed women and old people living with small children head some of the families. It's important that, as we hand over these much-needed food parcels, we ensure that help is provided directly where it is needed most."