The Right Honorable Deputy Prime Minister
Honorable Cabinet Ministers
Chief of the Ngcamphalala community
The Pricipal Secretay, DPM’s Office
Country Representative, UNICEF
Country Representative, World Food Programme
Honorable Member of Parliament
Senior Government Officials present
Chairperson of the Lubulini Inkhundla Council
Leadership of the variuos structures in the community
Today marks our first food distribution sponsored by the United States government to help the people of Swaziland cope with the effects of the drought. The past two years have been difficult, with little harvest and too many livestock deaths.
As we enter the planting season – which as you know corresponds to the heart of the lean season – we can expect the situation for food security and livelihoods to worsen. Here in Lubulini, drought-affected households have been struggling to meet their daily food needs. Failed harvests mean these households are relying on markets for food. But with little income to spare, high food prices, and a weakened currency, access to food is increasingly limited.
More than 600,000 people – roughly half the population – are estimated to be food insecure in Swaziland as a result of the El Nino-induced drought, including 350,000 in need of immediate humanitarian food assistance. The situation is worsened by the high level of people living with HIV – which creates added stress in families when it comes to water, sanitation and nutrition, as families like yours have to make tough decision. We have heard stories of families struggling to send children to school with poor hygeine and without food. Parents who are living with HIV now must choose between using funds for transportation to the health clinic and buying food for their children. Livestock that have died cannot be used to help farmers prepare the fields for planting.
In light of these circumstances, I want to commend the Swazi Government for pledging an additional $7 million to boost assistance in drought-affected communities such as Lubulini.
In response to Swaziland’s extensive needs, the United States government is proud to announce today its contribution of $9.6 million for emergency drought response to the people of Swaziland. This drought relief includes food assistance, nutrition and water, and agricultural and livestock recovery that will be implemented by U.S. government partners World Vision, World Food Program, UNICEF, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. These collective efforts will help improve access to water, strengthen food security, protect livelihoods, and build resilience among drought-affected households in Swaziland.
Over the next eight months, in partnership with World Vision, we intend to reach 455, 000 women, children and families across the country – those who are the most vulnerable and who risk losing livelihoods and facing food insecurity.
Today is the first distribution of food, including a monthly food basket of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil provided both from the United States and from within the region. In addition, children under five and pregnant or lactating women, who are often the most vulnerable within a family, will receive supplementary resources to protect their nutritional status.
We will also support screening for malnutrition to ensure that those who need treatment will receive it through local health clinics. Finally, we will support communities as they build and repair critical assets for income generation as well as agricultural and livestock recovery activities to contribute to grater foof security and resilience in the long term.
Through these programs, the United States government remains committed to our partners and to the people of Swaziland and we look forward to working at the national and community level to help you address your humanitarian and development needs.