Swaziland will soon run out of food in the coming months, with one in every three people facing severe starvation as the situation is expected to get worse.
King Mswati III had to partially shut down the Kingdom owing to a rise in Corona virus cases which has also contributed to the challenges engulfing the Kingdom. Despite the effects of the global pandemic, to a larger extend poor rains in the last farming season contributed to the poor harvests which has left the Mswati Kingdom in the current situation.
Contributing to the food crisis, is the imposed partial shut down of the economy in response to a surge in Corona virus cases. .
In a report published by The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), about 366,000 (32 percent of the population) faced ‘high acute food insecurity’ in the coming months.
The IPC survey was undertaken for rural and urban areas in Swaziland; comprising of four rural districts: (Manzini, Shiselweni, Lubombo and Hhohho); and two urban districts; (Hhohho urban and Manzini urban). At present, 32 percent of the rural population (292,794 people) and 17 percent of the urban population (37,424 people) are in crisis.
According to the IPC report, an estimated 37 percent of households has reduced income while 26.9 percent have reportedly lost employment owing to the COVID-19 pandemic thereby worsening the food insecurity situation in Swaziland.
‘High prevalence of HIV and AIDS and its effects on the productivity of most rural households in the country continue to pose a great threat to a large proportion (26 percent) of the rural population. Lower than normal rainfall, coupled with a high prevalence of disease, during the production season negatively affected food production and availability.’
In addition, of the 162.32 metric tons staple crop requirement for domestic use, the kingdom recorded a shortfall in maize production of 71.93 metric tons. . Planned import requirements amount to 61.7 metric tons, with an uncovered food gap of 10.22 metric tons.
According to the report, ‘COVID-19 restrictions continue to disrupt food supply chains in the country, negatively impacting food availability. However, handouts in the form of cash and food relief have been activated through Humanitarian assistance programmes.
‘The greater impact of the pandemic weighs heavily on the rural poor due to the disruption of the informal sector – the mainstay of rural livelihood.’
Comparing with 2019, the kingdom’s food insecurity situation is believed to have deteriorated. Meanwhile, EU has stepped in through feeding, coming to the rescue of the ailing Mswati Kingdom.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent.