MBABANE, 25 MARCH – Over 347,000 people – including 180,000 children – in Eswatini are currently facing acute food shortages  and need urgent humanitarian assistance, Save the Children warned today.
This figure includes nearly 60,000 people experiencing emergency levels of hunger, meaning that without immediate action, they could face starvation or even death.
The tiny nation between Mozambique and South Africa has experienced a rapid deterioration in food availability over past months due to COVID-19-related job losses, high food prices, and erratic rainfall leading to a poor harvest at the end of 2020.
The latest figures show that 31% of the population is now suffering from the food crisis, a markedly worse situation than the last hunger assessment in 2019, when 18% of the population was experiencing severe hunger.
Save the Children has launched an emergency programme with the National Disaster Management Agency and plans to scale up its response to ensure critical food packages and nutritional supplements reach children and their families.
The agency is urgently calling on donors to release funds to support the emergency response and stave off a hunger crisis.
Save the Children’s Executive Director in Eswatini, Dumisani Mnisi, said:
“The situation in Eswatini has been rapidly deteriorating and it’s finally reached a tipping point. One third of the country is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands of children are suffering as a result. Many of them have seen their parents lose jobs as the result of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Others have seen their harvests affected by erratic weather in 2020. The combination has led to needs like we have never seen in recent memory.
“We are calling on the international community for support as we rally together to face this challenge.”
Save the Children has worked in Eswatini since 2007, supporting over 23,400 children each year in Sithobela, Siphofaneni, Gilgal, Shiselweni II, Maseyisini and Gege. The agency’s programmes include child protection, sexual and reproductive health & rights, and livelihoods programmes.