|The fire up behind the Emseni Children's home last night. Photo Credit: Chris Cheek.|
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Everything is dying – we are in a crisis here!
Some of you know that we are praying for rain. Two of our dams are dry and the Living Water dam is almost too low to pump water and irrigate our crops. There is no way for us to know how much water is left in the wells that we get our drinking water from.
But our irrigated fields still look green, while the hills surrounding us remain brown, or on fire due to the dry grass and high winds.
In June 2015 it was predicted that the drought that was ensuing would kill an estimated 200,000 cattle if there was not immediate government intervention.
See article: http://www.observer.org.sz/news/73934-200-000-cattle-will-die-due-to-drought-govt.html.
Today I sat down with Anthony and got a report from our work in the surrounding community and with our 27 church partners and I was given a much deeper understanding of what “drought” really means today in Swaziland.
The number of children seeking food in each of our church partners has increased by 25% in the past two months.
But I was confused. I asked why the lack of water now would be cause more children to be hungry, when the food they are eating now would have been grown in last years crop? Here is how it was explained to me.
The maize that is the staple to the Swazi diet is planted in October/November and harvested in March/April. It is then dried and stored, to be eaten throughout the year. The harvests in the past decade have decreased and so the maize has not lasted from one year to the next. Swazi’s have used the “early rains” which typically start falling in mid-September through October to plant back yard gardens, which provides with healthy food quickly while they wait for their maize to be planted and harvested. Also, they typically are required to sell a cow or some goats to pay for seeds, fertilizer and food to get the family through the gap.
The drought is killing the cattle and thereby leaving Swazi’s in an even more dire situation. Even we at Project Canaan have lost 5 cows in the past month. Sickness, heat, snakes and disease are hard to manage even when you have full-time dairy staff, outside expertise and veterinarian support. The rural Swazi has none of these.
So, here is what is happening.
There are no cows to sell because thousands have already died and the ones that are still alive are too thin and sickly to sell. There have been no early rains so the ground is hard and dry and gardens cannot be prepared and planted. Even many of our church partners who had access to year-around water no longer have it and their gardens have died.
I also received more deadly news from Gebeni, the community beside us. I was told that there are many people there who are on ART (Anti-retroviral Treatment) for HIV/AIDS who are now stopping their treatment because they know that proper nutrition is a critical part of the efficacy of the medication that is so hard on their internal organs. Going off treatment will make their infectiousness increase and death will come faster. UGH!
I did receive some good news while I was in Taiwan, and that was that King Mswati III made a public declaration that the drought was officially over. We are thankful for that and look forward to the rain falling soon.
In the meantime, if you can contribute to our ongoing feeding program we would very much appreciate it. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and maybe you would consider making one less pie or reduce the variety of wonderful treats and instead give to help us feed the orphans and vulnerable children of Swaziland? A $50 donation will purchase 110 pounds of maize, which will feed up to 250 children.
Please donate today if you can https://heartforafrica.secure.force.com/pmtx/cmpgn__donations?id=701C0000000U6eS
In Canada please go to: https://www.heartforafrica.ca/canaandonation.aspx
Live from Swaziland … please pray for rain!
Another interesting article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201510160752.html