Schools across Swaziland are pleading with businesses and members of the public to donate food for starving children because the Swazi Government has failed to pay its bills.
A crisis has been growing over recent months and there are fears that children might die as a result.
The situation grows worse with each passing day, school principals said. It started at the beginning of the year when the Government failed to deliver food to schools as part of an established feeding scheme. It said it did not have the money to buy food.
The hardest hit, according to local media, are primary schools because they completely rely on government for financial assistance since the introduction of the Free Primary Education programme.
The Swazi Observer reported (29 June 2017) the Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) met with the Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula without any positive results, ‘because government is facing money problems at the moment’.
Magagula confirmed to the newspaper that nothing tangible came out of the meeting to find a solution to the food crisis.
It quoted SWAPA President Welcome Mhlanga saying schools were asking ‘the nation, companies and organisations to come to the rescue and save the situation’.
He said, ‘The situation on the ground is worsening with each passing day. There are pupils that kept coming to school because of the food but now that there is no food some are choosing to stay away.’
The newspaper added, ‘Mhlanga said the situation was dire and it was time for all to help.’
Last week the Times of Swaziland reported school administrators had sent a number of requests to government, asking it to act fast on the matter because they feared that they would soon start losing lives due to hunger in schools.
In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.
‘CHILDREN COULD SOON DIE OF HUNGER’
BAD FOOD POISONS 200 PUPILS
NO FOOD SO SCHOOLKIDS SENT HOME
HUNGER FORCES SCHOOLS TO CLOSE EARLY