The Marker for the bore-hole at Mpandesane
Two conversations with Swaziland today: Mandla Mdluli, Diocesan Development Officer and Tiekie de Beer, Managing Director of Luyengo Farm.
Mandla says the Swazi Government have declared a National Disaster in the face of the on-going drought. “We have received a bit of rain in the past few days, still not enough to put to an end the current situation. In today’s newspaper it is reported that “Water woes will last for the next six months in Mbabane”. Government is currently supplying water to 16 Counties mainly in the Lubombo and Shiselweni regions. I will tell you my experience that on January 20th I went to the wholesaler to quote for a 50kg bag of mealie meal. It was E292 and I went back on February 10th to buy it and the new price was E427. It is craziness. The country will have over 60% loss in maize production which means we will have to import more than 150,000 thousand tons of maize, hundreds of farmers could loose their jobs, more than 50% of farmers will have their livelihoods wiped out.”
Tiekie de Beer
Tiekie agrees. “Most subsistence farmers couldn’t plant maize because of the dry ground. When a little rain came they planted their own seed, which will take too long to ripen. They couldn’t afford to buy quicker growing seed. So as bad as things are now, it will be much worse in April and May, when there will be no harvest. Some homesteads have planted cabbages, but it is still too dry for them to thrive. Half the country’s cattle are already dead; the maize harvest will only be 10% of what is required. People will starve, especially in the rural areas. Another complications that the sugar companies are not irrigating their crops and so government revenue will be seriously down when they are facing this crisis.”
Currently we are supporting the Diocese of Swaziland water project, which is ensuring that primary schools are supplied with water; we are also in the process of installing a bore-hole at Mpandesane, near Lavumisa, the poorest and driest part of Swaziland. (You may remember that the lake near the care point has dried up.) We will support the diocese in whatever efforts they make to address the developing situation.
Luyengo Farm, thanks to Tiekie’s foresight in building the reservoir, has sufficient water to maintain production.