The Red Cross is helping 2,200 families suffering from the food crisis in Eswatini

Photo: Ville Palonen / Suomen Punainen Risti

The Finnish Red Cross is responding to the food crisis plaguing southern Africa with support from the EU and donors.

Southern Africa is suffering from a food crisis that has been developing slowly. The seeds for the crisis were sown in 2016 when the El Niño phenomenon damaged the following year’s crop, weakening food security for many people.

In the following years, the weather phenomena strengthened by climate change, such as irregular rains, floods and droughts, deteriorated the situation in Eswatini in southern Africa even further.

The situation is made worse due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The possibilities of making a living are now more limited than before for many families, reducing income while the price of consumer goods has gone up.

Many families suffer from a shortage of food.

The Shiselweni Region is most affected: it is estimated that one in four people suffer from a severe food shortage.

The European Union supports aid work

The European Union has granted the Finnish Red Cross 500,000 euros for improving food security in Eswatini. Some of the aid is also funded from the disaster relief fund. The aid will be delivered together with the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and the British Red Cross.

Thanks to support from the EU, we are able to distribute cash grants to 2,200 vulnerable families in the Shiselweni Region.

“The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society will distribute the grants to families once a month from September to December. The grants will be distributed in the form of mobile money, and the sum will help families cover their food expenses for one month,” Finnish Red Cross Planning Officer Sari Autio says.

In addition to distributing cash grants, volunteers from the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society will offer people nutritional guidance.

The Finnish Red Cross will send an aid worker specialised in cash grants to Swaziland to support the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross in its work. Other aid workers in the area will also offer support.

The Finnish Red Cross has helped improve the poor food security in Eswatini by distributing cash grants with support from the European Union, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and donors since 2016.

More than 125,000 people have received aid thus far. The aid work is able to continue thanks to donations collected during Hunger Day last year, for example.