16 March 2012
Swazi fiscal crisis threatens development goals - UN
Swaziland's fiscal crisis threatens the country's progress towards reaching the millennium development goals in health, education and food security, the United Nations said on Friday (16 March 2012), Business Live, South Africa reports.
The United Nations (UN) warned that delays and some reductions of government spending in the social sector as well as cuts in labour income had worsened poverty by putting an additional strain on the poorest households, especially families affected by HIV and Aids in young people.
The UN assessment was based on a nation-wide survey of 1,334 households carried out in November 2011.
It aimed to provide systematic evidence on the impact and responses to the fiscal crisis in Swaziland on people's lives.
The findings suggested that one in four households suffered shocks such as rising food prices and loss in labour income and that households adopted severe coping strategies in response to the shocks, such as cuts in food consumption, with some families skipping meals for an entire day.
It was also found that families made changes to modes of transport and have had reduced access to services. The report showed that households with members living with HIV were at greater risks to shocks and relied more on cheaper meals or skipped meals all together.
Swaziland entered the crisis with already major social challenges including the highest HIV rate in the world, high unemployment (29% of the labour force in 2010), widespread poverty (63% of the population) and food insecurity (29% of the population).
About 25% of the employed were working in vulnerable employment, that is either self-employed or working for family businesses. The situation is aggravated by a high rate of youth (ages 15 - 24) unemployment at 52%. At more than half of the labour force, youth unemployment is alarmingly high and needs to be addressed.
To read the full report from Business Live, click here.