Bridging the gap in Swaziland

Published: 2 March 2006 0:00 CET

Michel Paris, Relief Delegate, Manzin, Swaziland

All hope was lost for many families in Swaziland following almost two years of drought. Some had already sold their household properties to raise money for food. When the rain season started late last year, many people in Swaziland could only see another year of hunger approaching as they did not have money to buy seeds.

But since the end of January, thousands of families in the remote mountainous area of Ndlinilembi in the Manzini region, benefited from the distribution of maize seed and fertilizer. This was part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies food security operation.

Receiving maize has brought hope to the family of Nobuhle Dlamini, 13, who is currently staying with her grandmother and five other siblings.

“If the seeds germinate, we hope to have a good harvest,” she says with a broad smile on her face. “Our grandmother will now use the little money she has raised from wood carvings to buy uniforms and other things.”

Although Nobuhle’s mother is still alive, there isn’t much that she can do to help as she is currently sick at home. Nobuhle works round the clock to make sure that there is enough food in the house for eight people. The time she spends working also affects her performance at school.

“I hope we will be able to harvest enough to sell and raise enough money to build a better house for my sick mother,” says Nobuhle. The house they are living in is currently in a bad state and may collapse at any time.

Seed and fertilizer distribution in Swaziland is part of the International Federation ongoing response to the current food crisis in southern Africa, which is threatening more than 12 million people in seven countries. A food insecurity appeal was launched in October last year targeting more than 1.5 million people in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. The operation is targeting orphans such as Nobulhle, people living with HIV and AIDS, the elderly and child headed families.

Although the appeal is critically under-funded, the International Federation decided to start providing food, seeds and fertilizers, during this very difficult time when food prices are increasing.