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Good News For Swaziland’s Orphans And Needy Children At Year’s End

MBABANE –As the festive season approaches, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will be celebrating - along with 97,000 orphans and 33,000 other vulnerable children - with the resumption of food distributions to 1,600 Swaziland neighbourhood care points. The service was disrupted earlier this year due to lack of funding.

“The peak of the lean season is approaching and recent studies indicate that about 10 percent of Swazis are not able to put enough food on the table, ” says WFP Acting Country Director, Nils Grede. “The Christmas holidays will put additional pressure on households as their children will be at home and not receiving meals at school.”

HIV/AIDS has left some 130,000 children of all ages orphaned and vulnerable in Swaziland. This is more than a third of all children in the country. Many of these children are malnourished; 40 percent of children under the age of five in Swaziland are stunted.

Food distributions resumed  in mid-December thanks to the support of  the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA), which administers funding provided by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Children at the centres will now be getting two hot meals a day again.

 “We’re grateful to NERCHA, our staff and the transport companies because they got the job done,” says Grede. “WFP is proud to partner with the Government of Swaziland and the Global Fund to lessen the hunger pangs of thousands of Swazi children who flock to the community-based  centres for  lessons and meals every day.”

WFP provides breakfast and lunch for the children during the week.  Super Cereal, a nutrient-fortified corn-soya blend, is served mid-morning,while lunch consists of maize porridge and pea soup, both of which are prepared on site by volunteer caregivers.

A survey of 240 neighbourhood care points  by WFP in October found that  65 percent of them were no longer able to keep to their normal schedule of opening five or more days a week. The survey results suggest that the food acts as an incentive for the children to attend the centres and is a big  driver in ensuring the 1,600 care points nationwide  remain open.

This joint initiative between the Government and WFP is designed to improve  the quality of life of Swaziland’s orphans and vulnerable children  by providing food assistance to those aged  below eight years. Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate with 26 per cent of adults infected.

It is part of a major project being implemented by WFP in partnership with the ministries of Education and Tinkhundla Administration & Development, as well as with  selected non-governmental organizations.The project is due  to continue till the end of  December 2013.

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A photo gallery featuring children at Swaziland’s neighbourhood care points is available on the WFP website. Since these photos were taken this time last year, the number of care points being supported by WFP has increased from 260 to approximately 1,600.

For more information please contact (email address:
Nils Grede, WFP/Swaziland, Tel. +268 24044962, Mob. +268 7602 8871
David Orr, WFP/Nairobi, Tel, +254 207622594, Mob. +254 707 722 105
Elizabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570