Humanitarian community seeks $15.6 million for Swaziland drought relief

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 24 Jul 2007
(New York: 24 July 2007): The international humanitarian community is requesting $15.6 million to help address humanitarian concerns in Swaziland, which has been hit by the worst drought in 15 years. A national disaster was declared by the Government of Swaziland in June, after the recent maize harvest fell to only 26,000 metric tonnes (MT), making it the worst harvest ever. More than 400,000 people out of a population of one million will require humanitarian assistance between now and the next harvest in April 2008, according to recent assessments by humanitarian agencies. Compounding this situation, the country is faced with an overwhelming number of people living with HIV/AIDS: approximately, 220,000 people or one-fifth of the population.

"The Government of Swaziland is doing all it can, but needs our support. Hundreds of thousands of people face hunger, illness and severe hardship in the coming months and it is critical that we get life-saving activities up and running as quickly as possible," said United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes.

The Government has pledged $23.6 million to respond to the most urgent needs for food and water, but has asked the international humanitarian community to support its efforts. In addition to this, the international humanitarian community is seeking $ 15.6 million to help the government to address a wide range of needs, such as food, agricultural inputs, health including reproductive health-related issues and nutrition, water and sanitation, protection, and early livelihood recovery.

Of the $15.6 million requested, approximately $3.7 million is needed to provide immediate food assistance to vulnerable groups such as children under five, orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), and pregnant and lactating mothers as well as people living with HIV/AIDS. An additional $ 950,000 is sought to provide protection, care and support for 130,000 OVCs.

A further $2.8 million is needed to assist 20,000 farm households of 100,000 people. These funds will be used to support Input Trade Fairs where farmers are given vouchers to purchase drought tolerant seeds, fertilizer and other inputs. Small-scale irrigation facilities for community and backyard gardens will also be provided to allow households to grow short-cycle crops and vegetables (such as sweet potatoes) to enable them to have food by October.

Water sources are already drying up fast, with many boreholes now empty. Families have resorted to drinking water from dams, streams and rivers and even in some cases sharing dwindling water supplies with livestock. About $900,000 is urgently needed for safe water and sanitation facilities to contain and prevent the spread of water borne diseases and reduce deaths and illness among young children. Already incidences of malnutrition and communicable diseases have been reported by health authorities. The humanitarian community seeks $1.2 million for essential drugs and other supplies.

In June, $3.1 million was given by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to jump-start life-saving food and agricultural programmes. The additional funds are sought to continue operations over the coming months, as needs will increase as the impact of the drought becomes more pronounced. Although the appeal focuses on emergency-related activities, some of the funds will also go towards longer-term needs, such as building the country's resilience to chronic vulnerabilities and helping address underlying risks.

For media enquiries, please contact: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Dizery Salim, OCHANew York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570; Michelle Thulkanam, OCHA-Southern Africa. +27 11 517 1635, mobile + 27 82 4111 442.

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