Swaziland Refugees
As attention turns to the world’s refugee population, it becomes evident that this is a problem area that needs help. Africa alone holds more than 15 million refugees and accounts for a fourth of the world’s displaced population. Swaziland is no different, as the country has seen its fair share of refugees over the past decade. Listed below are 10 facts about refugees in Swaziland:

  1. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established itself in Swaziland in 1978 to help with an influx of refugees who were fleeing apartheid in South Africa.
  2. In the 1980s, there were as many as 20,000 refugees in Swaziland. As many as 8,000 of these refugees were Mozambicans fleeing from their civil war.
  3. In 2005, the UNHCR handed over all of its refugee services to the Swaziland government, as the number of refugees had drastically decreased following the abolishment of apartheid. Refugees in Swaziland at the Malindza and Ndzevane refugee camps began to rely on the government for key services.
  4. The number of refugees in Swaziland decreased from 759 refugees in 2011 to 505 in 2012.  This change was perhaps due to a massive drought and food concerns in the region that began at that time.
  5. In 2015, a sample of data was collected by the UNHCR concerning refugees in Swaziland.  The data found that the number of refugees still had not reached pre-drought levels and was currently at 696 refugees.
  6. Refugees in Swaziland today come from surrounding countries which include Burundi, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Somalia.
  7. New arrivals are held in the Malindza reception center and refugee camp that the UNHCR established. They are supplied with household items and blankets.
  8. Swaziland refugee children are enrolled in schools in order to integrate, and the Swaziland government applies to the UNHCR for funding in order for the children to attend for free.
  9. Malindza has health services for the refugees, including a primary care clinic that services the local community as well. The government understands that refugees come from difficult circumstances, so they also provide counseling services.
  10. In addition to providing household items, the opportunity to have gainful employment and medical assistance, Malindza and the Swaziland government have set up a food assistance program. This program was created to help new arrivals and the vulnerable which includes disabled persons and children. This program allows these people to receive food prepared in the communal kitchen.

Despite numerous hardships of their own, the people who call this small monarchy in Southern Africa home continue to provide their fellow people of Africa a safe place to escape from difficult circumstances. Although they no longer host thousands of refugees, the country still continues to treat those they do house with respect.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Why is Swaziland Poor

Buffeted over the course of the last few years by drought, the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and increasing food insecurity, the Kingdom of Swaziland continues its struggle with poverty. It is a lower-middle-income nation with approximately 63 percent of Swazis living below the poverty line. Why is Swaziland poor?

In understanding why Swaziland is poor, there is a need to explore the unequal distribution of land and wealth within the nation. A small, landlocked country in southern Africa, Swaziland is home to 1.1 million people. The majority live on government-owned Swazi National Lands, often less than one hectare in size. On the other hand, private title deed lands receive significant investment and produce important Swazi exports like sugar and wood.

With a rapidly increasing population size, land availability has decreased, and Swaziland’s poor have been forced to farm on the increasingly over-cultivated land. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the intensification of land use may lead to a further decrease in productivity, poorer living conditions and an increase in a number of people living in poverty.

During the 2015-16 agricultural season, Swaziland, already susceptible to low and unpredictable amounts of rainfall, experienced one of its worst droughts in the last 35 years. The drought caused poor harvests and a decrease in food security, which now affects more than 30 percent of the population. Approximately 6 percent of children under the age of five are underweight, and 3 percent of Swaziland’s annual GDP is lost due to child malnutrition.

The answer to the question of why is Swaziland poor must also consider the presence of diseases like HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. This leaves nearly 45 percent of children orphaned and vulnerable. HIV affects 26 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 49, greatly diminishing the country’s workforce and life expectancy, which is approximately 49 years.

Swaziland also has one of the highest incidence rates of tuberculosis, and 80 percent of tuberculosis patients are also affected by HIV. In its effort to provide care and treatment to HIV and tuberculosis patients, the CDC has provided thousands in Swaziland with antiretroviral treatment, HIV testing and counseling services since 2012. These services attempt to both help those needing treatments and ease the strain put on the economy by these diseases.

According to Geremia Palomba, in charge of conducting the International Monetary Fund 2017 visit to Swaziland, the main challenges currently facing the country are the significant fiscal readjustments and reforms needed to ensure future economic stability.

“Policies need to be carefully designed to address the main sources of recent fiscal deterioration and include both expenditure and revenue measures that can support long-term growth,” Palomba stated in an end-of-mission press release. “Structural reforms to address the lack of skilled workers, better align wage and productivity dynamics, simplify business regulations and strengthen the institutional environment have the potential to significantly boost investment and employment.”

By focusing reform efforts on these particular issues, Palomba believes that Swaziland may be able to achieve sustainable economic growth that is both strong and inclusive and will contribute greatly to the lasting stability of the country.

Amanda Quinn

Photo: Flickr

Swaziland is a small landlocked country in southern Africa that borders South Africa and Mozambique. The country is known for having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. Most of the country’s 1.3 million inhabitants live in poverty, with 69 percent of people being below the poverty line. The water quality in Swaziland remains unsafe for a large part of the population.

Three hundred and thirty thousand Swazis lack access to safe water, while 500,000 people do not have adequate sanitation. This is especially concerning for a country with so many HIV/AIDS patients that have weakened immune systems and therefore are more susceptible to waterborne diseases. The lack of safe water quality in Swaziland also causes the death of 200 children per year.

The Swazi government tried to offer assistance by drilling boreholes throughout the country, leaving the future management of the boreholes to its users. However, since locals could not afford to pay for the boreholes’ maintenance, the wells became dilapidated.

USAID and nonprofits such as WaterAid have taken measures in order to improve the water quality in Swaziland.

WaterAid lobbies the Swazi government to ensure that there is funding for water services to poor citizens. It also educates communities about simple and efficient ways to maintain safe water sources and toilets. In 2016, WaterAid provided 1,000 people with safe water and 1,000 people with better sanitation.

USAID has specifically focused on schools and the methods in which they obtain and use their water. They have set up programs that teach schools how to establish and maintain adequate sanitation systems. They have also provided schools access to clean drinking water. Additionally, with the introduction of new and effective methods for having safe water and good sanitation,

USAID was able to help schools create their own vegetable gardens to improve student nutrition. These programs have been set up in 57 schools and have improved the lives of around 9,000 students.

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr

Southern Africa is currently undergoing a severe drought, induced by a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean commonly referred to as El Nino. In addition to Southern Africa, several other countries in the region are also experiencing increased food insecurity. In mid-2016, the World Food Programme (WFP) categorized the Southern Africa region as a Level Three Corporate Response – the highest level of emergency. Currently, about 16 million people in the region need emergency humanitarian assistance. Swaziland is one of the countries of concern in the region, especially since it already faces numerous challenges, including poverty, chronic food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and an erratic climate.

Poverty and Hunger in Swaziland

Swaziland is a small landlocked nation, bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, and has a population of 1.2 million. It is a predominantly rural society, with most of the population dependent on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Maize is the main crop, grown by over 80 percent of farming households.

Poverty is prevalent in Swaziland, with 42 percent of the population living below the income poverty line of $1.90 a day. This is an especially troubling figure in times of food shortages because the poor cannot afford to buy food. Swaziland is a net importer of food and is vulnerable to food price increases in the rest of the region.

As a result, the poor have had to adopt coping strategies like limiting portions, reducing meals, borrowing food and limiting the types of food they eat. Chronic malnutrition is one of the greatest nutritional concerns and presents a major developmental challenge in Swaziland. One in every four children in Swaziland suffers from stunted growth as a result of malnutrition.


Swaziland has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with 26 percent of adults infected. The health of people living with HIV is particularly concerning. The disease disproportionately affects main income earners and caregivers. These households are more vulnerable to drops in food production or rising food prices because their income and productivity levels are already lower due to HIV.

Erratic Climate

Swaziland regularly experiences erratic rainfall, recurrent droughts and soil degradation, all of which adversely impact food security. Since 2014, the cropping seasons in Swaziland have been characterized by prolonged dry spells which result in widespread crop losses and reduced yields. The last few years have seen some of the worst maize production on record. The WFP estimates that nearly half the population will face some food insecurity in 2017, while 350,000 people will need urgent food assistance.

These interrelated challenges all contribute to high levels of hunger in Swaziland.

Helena Kamper

Photo: Flickr

The small country of Swaziland might be the first in southern African to eliminate malaria.

According to the National Malaria Control Programme, malaria in Swaziland has declined by 99 percent between 2000 and 2014. With only 603 confirmed cases this year, Swaziland is poised to eliminate the disease by 2016.

The Malaria Elimination Group, an independent international advisory group, convened at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to highlight the country’s achievement.

Over 60 representatives from the Ministries of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and international donors associated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were also present.

Swaziland’s success can be attributed to multiple factors. The Malaria Elimination Group praised the country’s “strong surveillance and response system that has accounted for much of its malaria elimination success.” The group also recognized that strong political support from the country was a contributing factor as well.

The support of a 2008 grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria assisted officials in the fight against malaria in Swaziland. With financial assistance from the fund, the country began an aggressive program to help fight malaria, strengthening case management as well as placing an emphasis on surveillance and response. Malaria_in_Swaziland

In order to ensure continued success, the Malaria Elimination Group says that “cross-border measures need to be strengthened.”

“For many eliminating countries, including Swaziland, close collaboration with neighboring countries is the key to success,” said Sir Richard Feachem, chair of the Malaria Elimination Group and director of the UCSF Global Health Group.

“If malaria knows no borders, then neither should our efforts to eliminate the disease. Swaziland’s surveillance and response [will be] unparalleled in the region; however, persistent imported malaria cases from endemic neighboring countries, particularly southern Mozambique, mean that a regional approach is essential for realizing our goal of a malaria-free southern Africa,” he added.

Swaziland is taking a leadership role in order to help other southern African countries eradicate malaria. Swaziland’s Minister of Health is also the Chair of the Elimination 8 (E8) which is “an eight-country effort that aims to eliminate malaria in four southern African countries by 2020.”

The E8 was recently awarded a $17.8 million grant from the Global Fund to strengthen malaria prevention as well as “improve regional surveillance and diagnostic capabilities.”

The grant underscored the overwhelming importance of totally eliminating the disease.

Said Hon. Minister Ndlela-Simelane, “This grant further strengthens our resolve to eliminate the disease. It will allow us to overcome our cross-border challenges, which we could not address in the scope of our national programs. Now, with this grant, we will have real-time date to address mobile and migrant populations that are highest risk of malaria.”

Alyson Atondo

Sources: Medical Xpress, UCSF, Times Live
Photo: Flickr1, Flickr2

For a Swazi, the most difficult time of survival is the first five years after birth. Malnutrition in Swaziland is responsible for 8 percent of child mortality. Because of an unorganized health system, 69 percent of child malnutrition cases go untreated.

Malnutrition is classified into two stages: chronic and acute. According to World Vision International, “chronic malnutrition results in stunting, or reduced growth in height, and means that a child has persistently not received adequate nutrition. Stunting affects one-third of all children in developing countries.”

Acute malnutrition is more expedited, resulting “in wasting, or rapid weight loss, and means that a child has experienced a relatively sudden drop in food intake. This is usually due to a severe food shortage or period of illness. Ten to 13 percent of children under five suffer from acute malnutrition.”

A study released by the World Food Programme (WFP) reveals that Swaziland relies on international donors to keep famine at bay. But in reality, this only conceals the fact that there are food shortages and malnutrition affecting the Swazis.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) survey was initiated by Swaziland’s National Children’s Coordinating Unit and the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, the first survey of its kind in Swaziland.

This survey found that the effects of malnutrition in Swaziland have stunted about 40 percent of adults. Because the effects of malnutrition can be seen throughout the lifetime of a Swazi, this creates a domino effect in the country.

Economic Planning Minister Prince Hlangusempi Dlamini noted “The saddest thing is that this cycle [of malnutrition] is not limited to the life cycle of each individual, but affects that person’s children, who will pass it on to yet another generation.”

Recommendations following the report suggest Swaziland spending massive amounts on a nutritional intervention, but Swaziland is unable to provide such financing. What can be done to bridge the gap between the much needed funding?

The Power of Nutrition, a new fund created by UNICEF and the World Bank Group in April, will help millions of children affected by malnutrition. And as a way to combat malnutrition in the years to come, The Power of Nutrition will also help countries build healthy and prosperous communities. Aid is the first step in helping, but developing communities will ensure that malnutrition will not affect future generations.

One of the goals of The Power of Nutrition includes trying to break the cycle of undernourished girls, who become undernourished mothers and give birth to undernourished babies. This is similar to the cycle of malnutrition found in Swaziland being passed form generation to generation.

With a fund like The Power of Nutrition, which hopes to raise $1 billion to tackle children’s nutrition, Swaziland would be able to receive the funding essential for the nutritional overhaul. The funding would end the vicious cycle of malnutrition carrying over to the next generation.

– Kerri Szulak

Sources: All Africa, Food Business News, UNICEF, World Vision International, Photo
Photo: Sustainable Conversations

women in swaziland
From the U.K., the organization Positive Women reaches to the tip of the African continent in Swaziland. With direct aid focusing on health, education and nutrition, Positive Women has successfully campaigned against poverty.

The statistics are startling. Nearly two-thirds of the population live under the poverty line and almost 33 percent of women in Swaziland have reported being sexually assaulted before the age of 18. With one of the worst HIV positive rates in Africa, nearly 15 percent of children are orphans, many due to AIDS complications. In addition, the legal system considers married women to be minors and allows them to marry as young as 13.

The campaign has been benefited by the setup and promotion of the organization. Celebrities like Joseph Morgan, from television’s The Vampire Diaries, and Koula, a television and radio host from South Africa, have helped raise awareness about the organization and the plight of people in Swaziland.

With current campaigns like Just a Million, which encourages a million people to donate at least £1, and Live Below the Line, which challenges people to live temporarily below the poverty line, Positive Women has successfully adapted viral fundraising techniques to its own organization.

Additionally, it outlines the costs of each program and the impact of individual contribution. With simple diverting – giving up a monthly Starbucks drink – an individual could pay for a child’s school tuition. The small donations make it easy for anyone to contribute to the cause and since the founding of Positive Women in 2005, hundreds of orphans have been provided education and countless women have been provided legal counsel.

While there is still much work to be done in Swaziland, the efforts of Positive Women have garnered international attention. The organization is giving people a chance who might not have otherwise received the care and opportunities that Positive Women’s efforts provide.

-Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Positive Women, The Guardian
Photo: Positive Women

hunger in swaziland
Swaziland is considered a low-income to middle-income nation. However, over 50% of the population lives below the national poverty line and makes less than 2 dollars per day.

Weather conditions contribute to the impoverished conditions. Droughts and flooding have caused years of food shortages and an increase in food prices. Maize, which is Swaziland’s main export, exceeded 100,000 tons 10 years ago and is now harvested at a rate of 70,000 tons. Weather, disease and unorganized food management programs are partly to blame for the plummet.

Health complications play a vital role in unsuccessful food productivity. For instance, Swaziland holds the highest rate of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis in the world. Nearly half of all women are HIV positive, along with over 80% of tuberculosis patients. With such high prevalence rates of HIV, the number of orphaned children is well over 200,000. Sadly this number will jump by over 50,000 by 2015.

Stunting causes numerous health and work related problems for the population, as well. Roughly 31% of children and over 40% of adults are stunted.

All of these health issues contribute not only to high mortality rates but a poor economy. Reports show adults who are stunted miss more work days and are less productive then non stunted individuals. Stunted individuals have more health problems and are more sickly. Education is also affected by the effects of undernourishment.

Many individuals end up dropping out of school and/or repeat coursework. Therefore workers required to use critical thinking or reasoning skills often provide low productivity. According to “the Cost of Africa Study,” Swaziland loses 783 million per year due to hunger-related illnesses.

Many blame the poverty-related conditions and hunger on the Swaziland government. The king’s lavish lifestyle reportedly depleted funds meant for the starving Swazi people. Reportedly, the king also enjoys 13 palaces, a private jet and luxury cars. He is quoted saying to the starving people that “hard work and prayer” will bring you out of poverty. He says this while the plans to tear down a school for a remolding project for one of his palaces is in the works.

Swaziland is a small landlocked country surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique. Its population, which reigns in at just over one million, is ruled by King Mswati III, one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. Many people believe that hunger, disease and malnutrition would decline if Swaziland became more of a democracy. Mswati does not support democratic transition, however.

– Amy Robinson

Sources: World Food Programme, All Africa, WFP
Photo: Development Diaries