Eswatini

Swaziland: Numbers in need expected to increase

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JOHANNESBURG, 13 January (IRIN) - Preliminary figures from the latest vulnerability assessment indicate that the number of people facing hunger in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland has risen significantly.
News reports from the kingdom quoted national disaster task team chairman Ben Nsibandze as saying that 297,000 out of a population of 1 million will require food aid to survive.

"This shows an over 80 percent increase from the results of the August/September assessment and if there is no food to come through at the end of March some people will start dying of hunger-related ailments," AFP quoted him as saying.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) stressed, however, that the numbers indicated by Nsibandze were preliminary figures from a draft report on the latest vulnerability assessment conducted in the country.

Reports officer Tessa Rintala told IRIN that "WFP does not acknowledge that figure as yet [297,000] ... as it's not the final figure, they're still working on the [assessment] report".

The last assessment put the number of those in need at 265,000 which was "the official number WFP is working with ... until the release of the final assessment report" due on 15 February, she said.

In its latest situation report, WFP said it had recently dispatched 429 mt of food aid, of which 373 mt was maize, to four of its seven implementing partners operating in Swaziland.

The kingdom is one of six countries facing severe food shortages as a result of drought, failed government policies and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Aid agencies estimate that about 14.4 million people in Southern Africa require food aid until the new harvest in March.

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