Update on the impact of Covid 19 to Eswatini (Dec 2020 update)
PRAY FOR ESWATINI
By Partner Relations Team
“More than 260 pregnancies reported from 280 schools and 44 of these being girls in primary school”
As every country around the world has experienced the short and long-term consequences of Covid-19, our beloved Eswatini has not been spared either.
Although Eswatini has had less than 6,668 confirmed COVID cases to date (as at 14 December 2020) and only recorded 127 deaths, the effect on our economy and society has been devastating. Experts projected for a possible 120,000 infections in the second wave, which is 10 % of the country population.
The social impact will only truly be known in the next year or so, but reports are that teenage pregnancies have escalated, with more than 260 pregnancies reported from 280 schools – 44 of the pregnancies being girls in primary school. Gender-based violence and sexual violence has also escalated since the lockdown as people are confined at their homesteads.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Themba Masuku, the reported cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) recorded from January to September in 2020 had increased from 1,420 to 9,399.
This means that at least 1,000 people became victims of violence every month. That is equivalent to about 33 people daily.
As a country with the highest HIV prevalence in the world at 26%, and with 58.9% of the population living below the national poverty line, Eswatini was already on the back foot. Struggling with 22% unemployment rate pre- COVID, this number has sadly risen to 26.5% overall, and most concerning is that unemployment among the youth is as high as 47%. This means that realistically, if this trend continues, half of the children in our care might not find steady income when they graduate.
“MORE THAN 8,400 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PERMANENTLY LAID OFF”
In the last 8 months, where Eswatini had declared a state of emergency, more than 8,400 people have been permanently laid off – with a dependence ratio of 7-to-1, which leaves an additional 58,800 people without income.
The UNDP reported that about 909 primary and secondary schools were closed, affecting approximately 339,000 learners and 15,945 teachers in Eswatini. Also affected were 12 government-aided tertiary institutions that fall under the broad jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), with a total of 13,959 students and 748 lecturers left impacted.
The Tourism industry has been severely affected with an estimated loss of ZAR1 billion in revenue. A direct impact for us has been that Bulembu Country Lodge needed to lay off 22 employees and is no longer able to contribute financially to the childcare programme.
Our other sustainability projects have been severely affected as well, with Bulembu Water losing 50% in sales and
several people across the enterprises had to be retrenched.
Another casualty of the COVID 19 pandemic has been Mobilize TV, which has had to shut down. Bulembu Honey has also scaled down operations to a minimum.
“Unemployment among the youth is as high as 47%”
In a country where there are already over 300,000 orphaned and vulnerable children under the age of 17 years, the reality is that the situation will worsen due to COVID 19.
Our country is in an economic crisis and the result is widespread hunger, illness, crime, and hopelessness. Without major intervention from people who care and the grace of God, this could get much worse.
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