Our project in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) focuses on community development through emergency housing, sanitation and food relief, sustaining livelihoods and empowerment training. Our approach is multi-faceted, looking to address a range of issues that impact individuals, families and communities.
We seek, promote and encourage individual and small community participation and leadership in order to develop sustainable outcomes. eSwatini is divided into four administrative regions. We work in the Lubombo region, particularly in the Siteki and Matsanjeni constituencies (Tinkhundla).
Our work in eSwatini
Family health and livelihood interventions are all about seeing families and communities thrive and be given the opportunity to overcome the incredible challenges that can propel them into poverty and keep them there for generations.
Our mealie meal food ration program delivers short term, monthly food rations comprising of mealie meal (milled corn), oil, sugar, beans, soup mix and soap. Families come into this program on a temporary basis. The rations help to supplement what a family already has, while we work alongside them to find more sustainable food solutions that lead to independence.
Kitchen gardens is one way we help families address food shortages to sustain themselves. The soil and climate conditions vary in the different locations, so we work alongside agricultural experts to develop and plan with each family the best crop solution to sow that will lead to successful harvests.
Pit latrines are crucial to improve hygienic conditions for families, as well as provide dignity and protection. We build new homes or repair dilapidated homes for vulnerable families who have no physical means of doing so themselves, and pit latrines are provided with every house. You can read more about our housing projects here.
Other interventions that are recommended by our local partner can be medical care assistance or education support. All these varied interventions help individuals and families move to a place of health.
We actively seek to empower communities to bring about transformational change from within, through both community participation and education and training.
Community participation involves facilitating discussions and meetings, leading to active involvement of each community in developing ways to make changes for themselves. Projects focus on the skills and assets that already exists within a community and considers how communities can harness this for change. Projects are then community initiated and driven, leading to longer term sustainability and ownership.
Examples of community projects have been school classrooms, school latrines, a milling house, water tanks, a women’s sewing enterprise, a commercial chicken project and working with children and families who are impacted by disabilities.
Sister Act is all about empowering girls with information, education and sanitary kits to manage menstruation. In developing countries, millions of girls are unable to afford sanitary pads. Girls will often resort to using old cloth, mattress padding and other materials that result in leakage and infection. To avoid stress and embarrassment, girls will stay home from school – this can be up to five days each month during their menstrual cycle. Many girls eventually drop out of school, with a lack of education then leading to a lifetime of social and economic vulnerability. To survive, some girls will turn to prostitution or early marriage, which puts them at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other diseases, a key issue particularly in eSwatini, which has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world.
Sister Act provides a solution to this, with the program addressing the stigmas and myths surrounding menstruation and the importance of maintaining cleanliness. At the end of the program, each girl is given a ‘Freedom Kit’ which includes four pairs of underwear, eight reusable sanitary pads, soap, a storage bag and further information on HIV/AIDS prevention. Each pad is washable and if cared for properly can last up to 18 months. The Freedom Kits are produced locally, which also benefits the eSwatini economy and Swazis who are employed in their production.
Sister Act Program
Family Health and Livelihood
Small Change Program
Small Change is a business skill development course to empower individuals to start or expand small businesses, in order to build a sustainable livelihood for themselves.
This training is provided both one-on-one, as well as part of broader community group training.
Small micro-finance loans are given to help participants learn how to manage a budget and grow their business.
A healthy community needs clean water, food provision, safe housing, access to medical care, education and income opportunities to thrive. An overwhelming lack of these necessities in eSwatini, combined with other issues such as HIV and tuberculosis leaves people sick, malnourished, vulnerable and unable to work. This continually propels families into the downward spiral of poverty.
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small, mountainous and landlocked country bordering South Africa and Mozambique, with an estimated population of around 1.1 million (UN 2021). Over 70% of the population live in rural areas on Swazi National Land (SNL, land owned by the government), with their main source of livelihood being subsistence agriculture (farming small plots, cultivating maize and keeping cattle). A decrease in agricultural productivity, repeated droughts, a decline in domestic and foreign investment and substantial food price increases have eroded the purchasing power of poor households and reduced their access to food.
eSwatini is also the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with the highest prevalence in the world, predominantly among people aged 15-49 years old, although it is also prevalent among children. In addition, the incidence rate of tuberculosis is also the highest in the world.
69% of Swazis are unable to meet basic food, education, transport and medical needs
59% of Swazis are living in extreme poverty
45% of people in the Lubombo region don’t have access to safe water, and 33% don’t have access to household sanitation
26% of Swazis are HIV+, the highest prevalence in the world
eSwatini has the highest incidence rate of tuberculosis in the world, and 80% of tuberculosis patients are co-infected with HIV
Life expectancy at birth is only 63 years old for men, and 55 years for women
One-third of Swazi children are orphans
26% of children under the age of five suffer chronic malnutrition
More than 50% of children under 17 are orphaned, with about 59% having lost their parents to HIV- and AIDS-related deaths
Food and Agricultural Organisation Website http://www.fao.org/emergencies/country-information/list/africa/swaziland/en/
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/swaziland
Masuku, M, B, 2006, ‘The Impact of HIV and AIDs on Agriculture and Food Security in Swaziland, FANRPAN Working Document
Swaziland Vulnerable Assessment Committee (SVAC), 2011, ‘Swaziland Annual Vulnerability Assessment & Analysis Report’
World Bank Country data 2010 http://data.worldbank.org/country/swaziland
World Food Program 2022 https://www.wfp.org/countries/eswatini
Operation Hope Swaziland
Operation Hope Swaziland (OHS) have been working in eSwatini for over a decade, in the areas of relief and community development in the Lubombo region. They engage with individuals and families through referrals from their own trained volunteer community development workers, government social welfare, community leaders, and the home-based care team from the local hospital. OHS have a long track record of work in their communities and have developed strong relationships with government offices and other local organisations and services.
OHS is a registered not-for-profit organisation in eSwatini.