Over 30, 000 Swazis receive cash-for-food handouts

For the first time in Swaziland’s history, the World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing aid in the form of cash to about 30, 500 Swazis facing starvation.The programme is being piloted in four of the 55 constituencies of the country, where the WFP is receiving support from the European Union (EU).

The beneficiaries from Hlane, Lugongolweni and Nkilongo in the Lubombo region and Madlangemphisi in the Hhohho region include mainly children who are either orphaned or have parents who are not able to provide food for their destitute families.

The geographical targeting is based on the food security situation on the ground, taking into consideration a number of preconditions that are important for implementing cash transfers.

WFP analyses communities’ proximity to local markets, functionality of transport systems to facilitate movement and most importantly the availability of mobile money agents to effectively meet the demands for cash.

The office of the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) revealed on Friday that each beneficiary gets a monthly sum of $10 through mobile money transfer service provided by Swazi MTN.

“This exercise has been going on for six months now and from the pilot areas we have realised that it is helpful because it enables the people to buy basics such as soap and food while they explore other sustainable means such as ploughing,” read a statement issued by the office.

According to the United Nations (UN) website, the cash transfer initiative is part of an integral solution to enable the humanitarian community to respond faster to the needs of the people it serves.

By delivering funds for food through smart cards, on mobile phone SIM cards, or by electronic vouchers, humanitarian actors are addressing hunger in places where there is food in the markets but poor people cannot afford to buy it.

In the past few years Swaziland suffered a drought that rendered about a third of its population of 1.1 million in desperate need of food aid.