8 February 2017

Swaziland: 250,000 Swazi Still Need Food Aid

At the same time that King Mswati III told his subjects that Swaziland had been saved from the drought because people believed in God, the World Food Program reported 250,000 Swazi people would need assistance with food until at least March 2017.

In a sermon, delivered on 28 January 2017, King Mswati declared the drought over.

The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, reported, 'His Majesty said he was proud because it turned out that Swazis really believed in God as they were now experiencing tremendous amounts of rain.'

The newspaper said the King told 'thousands of Christians' assembled at the Mandvulo Grand Hall, 'God tests your faith as a Christian by setting challenges and it is through these that as a Christian you must really pray and trust in Him to come through for you, because He is a faithful God.'

The Sunday Observer added, 'The king then declared that 2017 will be a year on bumper harvest for Swazis and prosperity in all spheres of life. "It will be a year of great harvest, prosperity and everyone will achieve everything they wish for. Pay no regard to your employment status as this is the year you all achieve everything," he prophesied.'

However, the World Food Program (WFP) in a monthly update on the drought situation in Swaziland, reported, 'In December 2016, in response to a request from the Government to increase WFP's assistance with an additional 100,000 people during the lean season, WFP started expanding its in-kind food assistance to an additional 22,000 people in two new constituencies.

'In December, WFP assisted 152,000 people with emergency food assistance, of which 30,000 received cash based transfers under the emergency response.

'Substantial gaps in the funding situation remain and WFP urgently requires US$5.5 million in order to ensure sufficient scale up and assistance to 250,000 food insecure people throughout the lean season, which lasts until March 2017.'

The WFP report continued, 'Two years of consecutive droughts have led to failed harvests, high food prices, agricultural livelihood degradation, livestock losses, reduced water availability, and an overall increase in food insecurity.

'Water sources declined by 50 percent during 2016 causing widespread crop failure. This has contributed to an increasingly vulnerable situation and the 2016/2017 agricultural season will need close monitoring.'

Despite the rains, 'weather conditions continue to have varied impact on the current agricultural season throughout the country,' the report stated.

It stated, 'In December, under the Emergency Operation, WFP assisted 152,000 drought-affected people through emergency food distributions, of which 122,000 people received food distributions and 30,000 people received cash-based transfers. Also, some 4,500 people received food assistance under the Food by prescription project.'

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