ACT Alert Swaziland 1/2005: Drought, HIV and AIDS in Swaziland

Geneva, July 8, 2005 - The low-lying areas of Swaziland are seriously hit by drought. According to a FAO/WFP report, an estimated 227,000 people are at risk of facing severe food shortage for four to seven months during the 2005/2006 marketing year.

Due to several years of drought, the groundwater level of most boreholes has now fallen below the 'adequate' level of most boreholes. Streams and smaller dams had since dried up. Access to sanitation and safe water in the affected areas is scarce.

The Swaziland Rural Water Board is extending water schemes in the affected areas. However, the affected areas are far and reaching only few people.

WFP reports that Swaziland currently has a food deficit of 7,000 metric tonnes. The food insecure situation is especially worsened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country which has a 42.6% prevalence, the highest in the world. Up to 40 percent of the population aged 15-49 years are infected, and life expectancy for the general population has reduced from 65 years in 1991 to 37.5 years presently, according to the FAO/WFP report.

The Lutheran Development Service(LDS) and other NGOs are assisting in latrine- building and solidarity- farming. The food shortages are being attended to by WFP, NDTF and the NGO Food Security Consortium in which LDS is a partner.

The devastating HIV/AIDS situation and shortages of food, water, sanitation and hygiene education are resulting in accelerated deaths and growing numbers of orphans and child-headed households. This is also jeopardising the possibilities to assist the HIV/AIDs infected population with life-saving ARV treatment.

In response to this situation, LDS plans to submit an Appeal estimated at US$700,000 to install water tanks, restore existing boreholes, provide water, construct latrines, conduct hygiene education, provide additional and supplementary feeding for vulnerable households and provide medical assistance with focus on opportunistic infections, ARV treatment and HIV education.

To implement its plans, LDS needs water tanks with foundations, replacement or repair of pumps for boreholes, water for the tanks, building material and tools for latrine construction, educational material for HIV and hygiene education, complementary feeding and agricultural inputs, transport and communication support for provision, supervision and co-ordination.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, White Rakuba (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Program Officer, Michael Hyden (phone +41 22 791 6040 or mobile phone +41 79 433 0592)

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.