Swaziland Drought Flash Appeal 2007

24 July 2007

A severe drought has affected all four regions of Swaziland, such that in early June 2007 the Government declared a national disaster.  The outcome of several recent joint assessments indicates that the recent maize harvest is 61% less than that of 2006, and that about 410,000 people will require varying levels of humanitarian assistance including food, agricultural inputs, water and sanitation, health and nutrition services, and early livelihood recovery.  The drought has been exacerbated by a lack of funding over previous years for long-term programmes aimed at increasing preparedness and strengthening the coping mechanisms of vulnerable populations.  Poor and other vulnerable subsistence farmers will need assistance to produce an adequate amount of food for the next season, whilst prices of agricultural inputs have skyrocketed and are beyond the reach of those households most at risk.

The drought is also likely to have an indirect impact on the already severe HIV/AIDS situation as patients on anti-retroviral drugs are expected to discontinue taking drugs in the absence of food.  Poor households are reported to have engaged in negative coping strategies, including transactional sex leading to a higher incidence of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV.  An increase in cases of gender-based violence, school drop-outs, skin diseases, diarrhoea, and child abuse particularly of orphans and vulnerable children has been specifically noted in some of the most affected areas. 

The priority needs addressed by this appeal are food, agriculture, health (including reproductive health-related issues) and nutrition, water and sanitation, protection, and early recovery.  The appeal has ensured the inclusion of cross-cutting issues such as gender and HIV/AIDS, which have been mainstreamed in the sector response strategies.  Although the appeal considers emergency-related activities for the next six months from July to December 2007, some crucial aspects of early recovery are addressed as well and have been designed in such a way to become the building blocks for long-term, sustainable support to community resilience to withstand and cope with chronic vulnerabilities.  The humanitarian community is relying on the international donor community to fund this Flash Appeal, to ensure that the humanitarian impact of this disaster is contained, and that the most vulnerable receive the assistance they require as soon as possible to restore their livelihoods.

The Government has appealed to the international humanitarian community to support its efforts, andhas pledged US$23.6 million[1] to respond to the most urgent needs for food and water in the affected regions.  The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme have received $3.1 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to start emergency relief programmes. To address the remaining grave humanitarian concerns of the drought-affected populations in Swaziland, the international humanitarian community is requesting additional support of $15.6 million covering an initial period of response of six months.  The financial needs are likely to increase as the impacts of the drought will become more pronounced during the upcoming dry season in August/September.   

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24 July 2007

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