Tens of thousands of people under coronavirus lockdown in Swaziland (eSwatini) are to get money to buy food from a charitable foundation. Meanwhile the Swazi Government’s scheme to feed more than 300,000 people by 6 May 2020 has stalled.
The Natie Kirsh Foundation began the cash distribution of E45 million (US$2.5 million) on Monday (25 May 2020) in an attempt to feed 69,000 people in 11,000 households in the Shiselweni and Manzini regions. Money will be sent to households in other regions in the kingdom in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini told media, ‘We are cognizant of the reality that many people who were not chronically food insecure before COVID-19 now need food assistance. These include workers who have been laid off, street vendors, hawkers and others.’
The money will be transferred electronically to the bank accounts of households. Each household is expected to get E700 to spend on food items of their choice.
The distribution is separate from a government scheme that was announced on 22 April. Prime Minister Dlamini promised more than 300,000 people would get food aid within two weeks. Swaziland has been in partial lockdown since 27 March.
The scheme stalled after the House of Assembly refused to back a plan from the Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku to send destitute people money rather than food.
Then it was revealed that the government had no plan to feed people living in towns and cities.
Then there was chaos across the kingdom as people who tried to register for food aid were turned away.
It was also reported that some people were being charged E50 to have their names put on the registration list. In normal times about seven in ten of the population live on incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 (E37) a day.
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