29 January 2013

Swaziland: Economy Fails, One in Ten Go Hungry

One in ten people in Swaziland will go hungry this year as the kingdom struggles to feed its population as the economy remains in the doldrums.

A total of 115,712 people face food shortages in 2012/2013, according to the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee in a report. The number has increased by 88,511 from 2011.

The report highlights problems with the Swazi economy as a major factor. It says that the kingdom is too dependent on food imports and because of high price inflation in Swaziland people cannot afford to buy food.

The report predicts that more people will fall into hunger as prices continue to rise.

People in Swaziland do not have enough choices for food supply and many are dependent on subsistence farming and this makes families vulnerable to hunger.

'The country's dependence on commodity imports for consumption requirements is not encouraged as price shocks may reduce households' access to food and increase food insecurity,' the report says.

Poor rains played a part in the food crisis which meant less cereal was grown than is needed. The lack of support services to help agricultural production contributed to the problem, the report says.

In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba when crops failed.

Matsanjeni South MP Qedusizi Ndlovu also said at the time that wherever he went people begged him for food.

In September 2012 the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies in separate reports said the Swazi government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing amount of Swazis who have to skip meals was its fault.

The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that has led to as increasing amount of hungry Swazis.

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