By Bongiwe Dlamini | 2020-12-11
ABOUT 366 000 Emaswati will be at risk of food insecurity and require immediate food assistance from September 2020 to March 2021.
The exact figure is 366 260.
This is according to the Eswatini Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA) 2020 as revealed by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku during the launch of the farming project for child-headed households at Ekudzeni Umphakatsi in the Manzini Region yesterday.
According to the DPM, the project has been commissioned by Their Majesties to take advantage of the predicted normal to above normal rainfall for the current season.
Its primary purpose is to assist child-headed households from receiving food parcels, but be capacitated with skills to enable them to grow their own food.
Through this project, Masuku said the children will also get an opportunity to learn the much-needed life skills, as they will be taught how to produce maize, beans and sweet potatoes. Children with arable land for crop production will be identified and verified for this project.
Also, the DPM said since the indicator has shown that by March 2021, up to 32 per cent of Eswatini’s population will need immediate food assistance, it is pertinent that the vulnerable are urgently assisted by building communities using readily available resources and cost-effective strategies to improve the food security situation in the country.
Masuku added that more sustainable and innovative food security interventions have to be used in order to achieve the aforementioned goal.
Furthermore, Masuku said Eswatini has not been spared from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, which continues to have a growing impact on the national economy, causing increased vulnerability and food insecurity in the country. He noted that the HIV/AIDS epidemic also had immense negative effects on the children in Eswatini. As a result, an estimated 1 834 households are headed by children and are exposed to vulnerability.
In addition to the trauma of losing their parents, the DPM said the orphans face other obstacles that can be attributed to the effects of the epidemic, leading to them engaging in unhealthy coping strategies, such as getting involved in criminal activities, childhood marriage, prostitution and drug abuse.
Based on historical trends of food insecurity in Eswatini, Masuku said the food insecurity challenge is correlated to poverty and recurring shocks, such as drought, hence it is important to provide programmes that will counter the effects.
“Agricultural development is important to improving food security and nutrition. Its roles include; increasing the quantity and diversity of food produced, driving economic transformation, and providing the primary source of income for many of the country’s needy people. Producing your own food also restores individual dignity and self-esteem,’’ Masuku said.
Furthermore, the DPM reckoned that the establishment of the child-headed households farming inputs project will restore the dignity of the families.
“My office will be supporting 156 child-headed households in the four regions of the country, with farming inputs for production of their own food. This, therefore, will prevent dependency to food relief assistance while creating food security for those households, hence weaning the vulnerable households from receiving food parcels,’’ the senator said.
For this project, the DPM’s office, through the disaster department, will coordinate the implementation of the project.
The ministry of agriculture, on the other hand, will provide technical assistance and the ministry of tinkhundla administration and development will collaborate with chiefdoms structures in identifying and verifying the beneficiaries while also rendering oversight of the project.
“Faith-based organisations have a big role to play in the project.
The church has a mandate to assist the needy and restore hope to those who have lost hope so they are requested to see that farming is happening in the homesteads, assisting with manpower and giving moral and spiritual support to the beneficiaries,’’ appealed the DPM.
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