Vulnerability and Resilience

Twenty per cent of children under the age of 18 are orphaned with one or both parents deceased. The prevalence of orphan-hood increases with age, with 7 per cent of children under the age of 5 orphaned, compared with 37 per cent of 15-17 year olds. The Government has created programmes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), through the OVC grants, supporting free primary education and school feeding programmes to reach 229,000 OVCs in the country. However, the OVC programme faces operational challenges, including difficulty in keeping track of individual students and inadequate monitoring of the programme.

Household food insecurity continues to be a problem in Swaziland. In 2014, the number of people requiring food assistance was estimated to be 67,592, while an estimated 223,249 required livelihood support such as inputs, cash transfers and institutional support. About 11 per cent of the population is estimated to be below the minimum level of dietary energy requirements. However, food availability for rural households greatly improved between 2011 and 2014 with households increasingly able to provide for their daily food needs.

The Cost of Hunger Report for Swaziland 2013 highlights the impact of under nutrition on children, the family and society at large. A child affected by stunting is more likely to be ill, perform poorly at school due to lower cognitive capacity and later in life be less productive at work. Under-nutrition has a long term effect on societies and results in health, education and economic productivity costs. It was estimated that Swaziland loses about 3.1 per cent of its GDP as a result of malnutrition.