While the Swaziland Government fails to deliver on its promise to fund drought relief in the kingdom, the global agency UNICEF has reported that it has been unable to raise a single dollar to protect children from the effects of the drought.
UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – has been making monthly updates on the humanitarian situation in Swaziland, where it was revealed in early July 2016 that King Mswati was about to receive delivery of a private 375-seater jet plane at a cost of about US$14 million paid for by the Swazi people.
In a report in April 2016 UNICEF said it needed US$151,200 for its Child Protection work. In June 2016 it reported that no money at all was forthcoming. It estimated that 189,000 children under the age of 18 were affected by the drought.
UNICEF reported in April 2016, ‘The UNICEF Child Protection and HIV response remains unfunded. Consequently, activities prioritizing protection of children from violence, abuse and exploitation and the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, both of which are long standing issues in Swaziland, remain to be implemented.
It added, ‘Funding for the response is a significant limiting factor, alongside the capacity of implementing partners to expand to meet the needs of the most affected. Without sufficient funding, UNICEF and partners supporting the drought response remain without the financial and human capacity to support the Government’s national drought response.’
UNICEF reported it needed US$2.98 million before the end of 2016 and so far had received only US$342,000; an 89 percent shortfall.
As of the end of May 2016, UNICEF estimated 300,320 people in total in Swaziland were affected by drought of which 189,000 were children. It estimated that 165,000 children affected were by drought in the two most affected regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni.
A total of 200,897 people were food insecure, of which 90,404 were children. Of these, 8,460 children aged 6 to 59 months were affected by ‘severe and moderate acute malnutrition’.
Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Monday (11 July 2016) that the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini announced this to the House of Assembly.
The newspaper reported he ‘failed to explain the reasons behind government’s failure to purchase and distribute food to the affected communities’.
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