14 September 2017

Swaziland: School Children 'Face Starvation'

Photo: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS
Students at Motshane Primary School, Mbabane, Swaziland (file photo).

Children in Swaziland must 'brace themselves for starvation', according to a head teacher as once again the government has failed to deliver food to schools.

This is part of a long-running problem where government has not paid its bills to suppliers.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, reported on Monday (11 September 2017) that as the third school term opened food promised by the government had not been delivered.

The Times reported there was once again 'a serious food shortage in most of the learning institutions'.

It added, 'The emergency food which was delivered before schools closed for the second term has already been exhausted. The Ministry of Education and Training had promised that food for the third term would be delivered during the school holidays but none of that has happened.'

Head teacher of Emabheleni Primary School Sibusiso Ndzinisa told the newspaper some pupils were sick and on medication and depended on the food which was provided at school.

Musa Simelane, the head teacher at Maphalaleni High School, said the pupils should brace themselves for starvation because there was no available food in the school, the Times reported.

Food shortages have hit Swazi schools all this year and the government school feeding scheme known as zondle has collapsed.

In August 2017, members of parliament in Swaziland accused the Ministry of Education and Training of lying in a report on severe hunger in the kingdom's schools.

They were told that a crisis that has continued all year was over and that school committees were stealing food intended for children.

A progress reported tabled to the Swazi House of Assembly by Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula was rejected. The shortage escalated after the government did not pay its bills to suppliers. The food includes rice, mealie-meal, cooking oil, beans, and peanut butter.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland's 1.1 million population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.

It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.


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