The European Union donated 2.4 million euros (about 46.6 million emalangeni in local currency) to Swaziland (eSwatini) as the government stumbled to feed hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of food during the current coronavirus crisis.
The money will help feed 230,000 vulnerable households in all four regions of the kingdom. They will receive cash and food parcels for the next eight to 10 months.
EU Ambassador to Eswatini Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones presented a cheque to Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini on Wednesday (15 July 2020).
In a statement the EU said the scheme would be implemented through the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) which would partner locally with the World Food Program (WFP) and Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society.
WFP would receive from ECHO 1.4 million Euros for an action focusing on food and nutrition insecurity in worst affected areas. Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society which will partner with Red Cross Finland, would receive 1 million Euros for an action focusing on food security and nutrition.
The Swazi Government's own scheme to feed the hungry has been plagued with problems.
A fund was set up to give money to about 300,000 people who faced hunger and possible starvation when they lost their jobs because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown that started on 27 March. Many businesses were forced to close.
There were so many reports across the kingdom that the registration was flawed that in some places the whole process had to start again.
There were numerous reports that organisations tasked by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) had failed to identify people genuinely in need. In turn those organisations blamed NDMA saying the process they were asked to follow was flawed.
Media reported that money was going to civil servants, landlords and some law enforcement officers who had registered for relief under questionable circumstances.
The Swazi Government's feeding scheme was a failure from the start. Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini had announced it would feed more than 300,000 people by 6 May. By a month after that date only 113,273 people had received aid.
The feeding plan was originally rejected by members of the House of Assembly who preferred that food, rather than cash, be distributed. They feared money would not be spent on food.
Last week NDMA Chief Executive Officer Russell Dlamini said money would not go to elderly people aged 60 and over who get already a monthly E500 elderly grant (pension) from the government.