• On 18 February, 2016, the Government declared a national state of emergency due to the El Niño drought.
• A comprehensive joint multi-sectoral drought response and mitigation plan has been developed, led by Government, requiring $80.5 m.
• Government has made available $3 m for the immediate response.
• UNICEF and the UN Agencies supported the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), to conduct a national multisector rapid assessment from 9-16 February 2016 to identify the key impacts of the drought.
• UNICEF supported a drought impact assessment on schools which highlighted immediate needs in the provision of school feeding, water and alternative sanitation.
• The drought is affecting approximately 189,000 learners, and 8,157 teachers and support staff nationally, as schools are critically affected by food and water shortages and lack of alternative sanitation.
• The drought has affected learners, teachers and support staff in the capital, Mbabane, including temporary closing of schools in to manage water shortages.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Swaziland is currently experiencing one of the most severe El Niño induced drought conditions with low rainfall, acute food and water shortages. Short-term forecasts indicate the high probability of below-normal rainfall continuing and become one of the worst droughts on record. The Government of Swaziland declared a national drought disaster on 18 February in response to drought and launched the National Drought Emergency Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (NERMAP). The NERMAP is from January 2016 to March 2022 and estimates that from March 2016 a minimum of 300,000 people, (about one third of the population), will be in need of food assistance. According to preliminary information from the recent assessments, this number is expected to increase to 350,000 from May 2016 onwards. The overall NERMAP needs is US$80.5 million, of which the government has made available $3m, while considering the immediate needs and additional commitments. The Government and the UN will hold a humanitarian round table discussion to sensitize donors and facilitate resource mobilization. The Government of Swaziland also participated in the SADC region El Niño summit meeting held on the 25-26 February 2016.
Food and water supply remain the major immediate needs of communities mainly in the worst affected regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni. However pockets of need are present in areas not normally affected by drought in the Hhohho and Manzini regions. The price of grain (staple) has risen by over 10% since October 2015 further raising the cost of maize meal from US$ 5.10 p/10kg to US$ 7.65 in a space of three months. With families out of stock grain from the last ploughing season the increasing cost of grain and maize meal has led to reducing the number of meals per day with poor families having one meal per day.
Water shortage remains a key concern and challenge with water storage in national reservoirs limited and river flows very low in all five major rivers. Many dams providing water for livestock and farming have dried, affecting the livelihoods of farmers in both crops and livestock. Electricity generation has dropped significantly increasing the dependence on imported power. This has led to power rationing in most parts of the country.
Health facilities and schools are critical areas for water supply support to enable continuity of services to surrounding communities. Mbabane has started water rationing for the first time in its history affecting business, schools and families. The reduction of water has impacted the education of children (especially urban schools which depend on flushing toilet systems). The situation is affecting approximately 189,000 students and 8,157 teachers and support staff nationally, especially in Lubombo and Shiselweni regions due to limited water, and sanitation/hygiene conditions. The Government is planning various initiatives to provide its people with enough water, such as drilling boreholes and water trucking.