SWAZILAND: ERD responds to hunger crisis

May 25, 2007

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is providing food aid to people in Swaziland after ongoing drought. The country has been struggling through one of its worst periods of drought in years.

In Swaziland, 80 percent of people are dependent on subsistence farming, although only 10 percent of the land is fit for growing crops. Drought, floods, and overgrazing has weakened the quality of the soil needed to produce crops for harvest. It is estimated that more than 350,000 people, or 1/3 of a total population of 1.2 million, have been affected by hunger over the past four years.

ERD is partnering with the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland, part of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, to distribute essential food aid in Shiselweni, the region most affected by the drought. The food assistance includes bags of maize and beans and cooking oil for food preparation. Vehicles are also being provided to transport the goods to local communities.

"The Anglican Church in Swaziland is working to make sure that the most vulnerable, the orphans and those living with HIV, survive this winter in the face of a decimated harvest," said Janette O'Neill, ERD's senior director for Africa Programs.

ERD has been working in partnership with the Diocese of Swaziland through primary health and food security programs. Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. ERD trains clergy and community leaders to teach HIV/AIDS prevention methods, provides counseling to persons affected by AIDS and encourages people to seek voluntary testing and treatment. Young people are being trained in agricultural training techniques such as building irrigation systems and planting and caring for crops. Community gardens have been created to serve as a source of nutritious food and income.

To make a contribution to help people affected by this crisis, donate to the "Africa Relief Fund" at http://www.er-d.org/ or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, "Africa Relief Fund," PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116