Some 350,000 people – nearly a third of the population of Swaziland – are in urgent need of food assistance, according to the Swaziland Vulnerability and Assessment Committee, with 640,000 potentially to be affected to some degree by food insecurity at the peak of the lean season (November 2016 - March 2017). Water reservoirs have declined by more than 50 per cent in Swaziland due to the lack of rain. Contributing to the hardship faced by many has been a rise in food costs, with maize prices more than doubling since last year. This crisis is especially hard on vulnerable groups including the one in four people living with HIV and their households. The Government declared a state of emergency in February and launched its National Emergency Response, Mitigation and Adaptation Plan.
WFP will provide emergency food and cash-based assistance to 150,000 drought affected people in Swaziland. The assistance is planned for ten months until March 2017, coinciding with the next harvest. The operation will support 100,000 people with in-kind food assistance, and an additional 50,000 people with cash-based transfers – more than half of the 350,000 in need of assistance in the most affected areas. WFP will closely monitor the situation, and if further assessments show increased needs, the scale and length of this operation will be reviewed. In June, as part of the drought emergency response, WFP assisted 77,147 highly food-insecure people. Almost 8,000 people have received training on water harvesting through a World Vision initiative, supported through UNICEF, while over 4,000 people in the most affected region of Lubombo have been reached with lifesaving messages though community outreach activities. Nutrition campaigns continue to focus on infant and young child feeding, maintaining a balanced diet during the drought and sanitation and hygiene messages. Of immediate concern are the escalating water shortages in urban centers. There is a concern that the increasing water shortages and rationing currently in place in the capital Mbabane will have a significant impact on the 10,000 students and teachers in 29 primary and secondary schools in the city when they reopen in September. The education sector is drafting a contingency plan to respond to the water rationing for Mbabane schools. The plan will focus on water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion. The WASH sector is working on longer-term interventions such as the rehabilitation of existing water systems and the development of new water points for communities, which do not have pre-existing water systems. The sector aims to strengthen schools and community systems to ensure sustainability of the interventions beyond the current drought.
As of October 2016
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