The Kingdome of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a landlocked country in Southern Africa bordering South Africa and Mozambique. It has a population of 1.2 million.
Eswatini is classified as a middle-income country, with a relatively high GDP of US$2,415 per capita, yet 63 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line and 29 per cent lives below the extreme poverty line.
The country’s HIV/AIDS prevalence is 31 per cent, one of the highest in the world, and life expectancy has fallen to approximately 49 years.
Poverty in Eswatini is predominantly rural and varies among the country’s four regions and different ecological zones. Regionally, the prevalence of poverty in 2010 was greatest in Lubombo region at 69 per cent, followed by Shiselweni region at 68 per cent.
Smallholder agriculture remains the backbone of rural livelihoods. Rural poverty is mainly a result of small landholdings and low productivity, compounded by frequent droughts, which lead to crop failure and loss of livestock.
People are often isolated from markets and information sources and have limited access to off-farm employment opportunities. All these factors are aggravated by HIV/AIDS, trapping poor people in poverty.
Frequent drought, attributed to climate change, has led to a decline in Swaziland’s food production. About a quarter of the population is food insecure and dependent on assistance, and a third of children under five are stunted. Environmental fragility is also affecting food security.
Overgrazing has depleted the soil, while drought and periodic floods have become persistent problems.
In Eswatini, IFAD is working to help poor rural people by creating sustainable jobs, reducing poverty and improving food security.
Our country strategic opportunities programme is designed to reduce the high levels of poverty in rural areas and improve food security and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized members of rural communities. These include households headed by women, households affected by HIV/AIDS, and young men and children who have been orphaned.
The IFAD country strategic opportunities programme has three main objectives, focused on:
- helping poor rural people gain access to land and water for agricultural production;
- supporting rural poor people to develop small businesses; and
- encouraging rural communities, particularly women and young people, to participate fully in rural development.
IFAD programmes and projects support intensification of agriculture and irrigation schemes in rainfed areas, helping people to develop small rural businesses.
Activities include working to improve links to financial services and markets, to support providers of financial and marketing services, and to strengthen the capacity of poor rural communities and their institutions.
Results-based country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP) Arabic | English | French | Spanish
In Eswatini, an estimated 63 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, and about 29 per cent lives below the extreme poverty line.
Poverty is predominantly rural and varies among the country’s four regions and between different ecological zones.
Since 1985, IFAD has supported five projects and programmes in the country for a total amount of US$44.4 million, benefiting 41,555 poor rural households.