Drought is a primary cause of food insecurity in Swaziland, a small, landlocked country of 1.3 million people—70 percent of whom are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Irregular rainfall and prolonged dry spells during the 2017-2018 October-to-March rainfall season, as well as an outbreak of Fall Armyworm—an invasive agricultural pest that affects maize and other crops— have impeded food production. The 2017 Swaziland Annual Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis report projected that approximately 177,000 people— more than 15 percent of the population—would be in urgent need of food assistance during the 2017/2018 lean season—when food is most scarce.
Through non-governmental organization partner World Vision, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is providing cash transfers for food to nearly 48,000 food-insecure individuals until the April-to-May harvest can begin, enabling them to purchase a diversified basket of nutritious and familiar food in local markets. This cash-based assistance boosts household purchasing power and increases access to food until households can harvest their crops, while simultaneously stimulating and strengthening Swazi economies.
Additionally, recipients of FFP-supported assistance are participating in training on Fall Armyworm detection and management to help communities identify and combat the pest, increasing the likelihood of a successful harvest and subsequently improved incomes and food availability.
During the 2016 and 2017 El Niño drought response, FFP worked with World Vision and the UN World Food Program to provide emergency food and nutrition assistance to drought-affected populations. Through World Vision food-for-asset activities, households participated in the creation and rehabilitation of sustainable grazing land, infrastructure, water and sanitation assets that improve community resilience to future environmental shocks.