The World Food Programme (WFP) helped feed 109,449 people in a month, about one in ten of the population, in Swaziland (eSwatini) as hunger continues to grip the kingdom.
The report from the United Nations group for October 2020, just published, revealed WFP provided social safety nets for 55,000 orphans and vulnerable children under five years at 1,700 Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs) through access to food and basic social services.
Hunger is sweeping across Swaziland. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) in a report published in August 2020 said about 366,000 people of the 1.1 million population faced 'high acute food insecurity' in the coming months.
The IPC analysis was undertaken for rural and urban areas in Swaziland; comprising four rural districts: (Manzini, Shiselweni, Lubombo and Hhohho); and two urban districts; (Hhohho urban and Manzini urban). It showed 32 percent of the rural population (292,794 people) and 17 percent of the urban population (37,424 people) were in crisis.
Compared with 2019, the kingdom's food insecurity situation had deteriorated.
In its report WFP stated, 'Despite its status as a lower middle-income country, 69 percent of the rural population in eSwatini live below the national poverty line and 25 percent are extremely poor. eSwatini has a very high HIV prevalence, affecting 26 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49. Life expectancy is 49 years, and 45 percent of children are orphaned or vulnerable.
'Chronic malnutrition is a main concern in eSwatini; stunting affects 26 percent of children under the age of five. eSwatini is vulnerable to drought in the south-east. Smallholder agriculture remains the backbone of rural livelihoods in the country, with over 70 percent of the country's total population (60 percent of whom are women) relying on subsistence farming.'