January 07, 2021
Khutsala Artisans loves to provide beautiful, handmade jewelry, but there's something the organization cherishes even more: helping reduce hunger in Eswatini, Africa.
Khutsala Artisans, a Heart for Africa Initiative, assists in decreasing hunger in a kingdom suffering from a lack of food and financial resources that can help provide it. This effort to help Swazis is part of Heart for Africa's mission to instill HOPE in Eswatini. That HOPE stands for hunger, orphans, poverty, and education, four critical components that Heart for Africa focuses on. However, while each of these factors is equally important, there's only one that this article will highlight, and that's hunger.
This issue doesn't get discussed often, and media outlets don't consistently put the problem in the spotlight. In fact, most articles that explain the hunger crises in Eswatini are written by non-profits, missionaries, and travelers from abroad.
While this bit of information helps generate awareness, the lack of overall attention that this issue receives leads to a cycle of hurt and pain for those who are suffering. Without enough awareness, there's usually not enough help, and that makes it harder to help alleviate the problem.
However, like other organizations that are passionate about serving Swazis in Eswatini, Heart for Africa and Khutsala Artisans are committed to reducing hunger in this little-known kingdom. And if you want to get involved, you can take quick, easy steps to help as well.
The basic information on hunger in Eswatini
Decreasing hunger in Eswatini starts by having a foundational understanding of the problem and its contributing factors.
With 1.1 million people living in the kingdom, Eswatini is home to a lower-middle-income population. In the 2019 Human Development Index, the kingdom ranked 138 out of 189 countries, leaving it with the 10th highest income inequality worldwide.
In addition, the number of people experiencing poverty also remains significantly high. Research suggests that 58.9 percent of the rural population lives on less than US$1.90 per day, meaning more than half of Swazis in Eswatini live below the national poverty line.
For insight on what's leading to this crisis, here are three contributing factors.
Making ends meet typically requires Swazis to depend on subsistence farming. Currently, more than 70 percent of rural households depend on smallholder agriculture.
However, this method does not always lead to fruitfulness. Farmers typically lose 30 percent of their harvest. And inadequate supply chains increase costs that further dishearten farmers from doing any smallholder production. Consequently, farming doesn't always provide enough food to meet Swazis' basic needs.
Inefficient farming techniques aren't the only things contributing to hunger in Eswatini. Climate change is an external factor that's also creating and sustaining the problem.
Recurrent droughts are a constant worry for Swazis. With most of the population dependent on agriculture, the kingdom is highly reliant on direct rainfall. And without it, Swazis inevitably suffer from food shortages.
From 2015 - 2016, this vulnerability became a reality when the El Niño drought hit the kingdom. Experts believe it was the worst drought in Eswatini since 1992.
The natural disaster affected farmers, who couldn't produce a good harvest. And it also impacted livestock, who played a crucial role to Swazis. With a lack of water, inconsistent rainfall, and suffering pastures, around 80,000 cattle died across the country.
Another significant factor contributing to hunger in Eswatini is the HIV/AIDS crisis. While many people are unaware, 27.3 percent of Eswatini's adult population has AIDS. That statistic gives Eswatini the highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence worldwide.
However, many Swazis don't know if they have the disease, preventing them from getting proper medical treatment. And as HIV/AIDS continues to spread across the country, men and women end up dying, leaving behind households that depend on their financial resources to provide food.
Studies suggest that 50 percent of children under 17 are orphans, and around 59 percent of children have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. That leaves more than half of the children in Eswatini vulnerable to malnourishment and hunger.
How to help reduce hunger in Eswatini
With Eswatini encountering inadequate farming techniques, frequent droughts, unpredictable weather conditions, and an HIV/AIDS crisis, the kingdom needs as much help as possible to decrease hunger. Khutsala Artisans provides one path to help alleviate hunger. However, Heart for Africa offers four other unique ways to get involved.
Altogether, here are five ways you can help reduce hunger in Eswatini.
Khutsala Artisans provides beautiful, handmade jewelry that Swazis in Eswatini produce. From bracelets, necklaces and earrings to beautiful bead craft home deécor you can find pieces that compliment your wardrobe or home décor.
But what's also nice about buying jewelry and home décor from Khutsala Artisans is that the money goes to employees, who are men and women living in Eswatini. The artisans support on average 13 people back at home. This income helps feed their families and communities so that their loved ones don't live in a constant state of hunger.
And what's even better is that the actual profits from your purchase help care for the children living in the homes at Heart for Africa. The profit provides medical care, clothes, and food for the children to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you'd like to get involved by purchasing jewelry, shop the custom, handmade items at Khutsala Artisans.
The Project Canaan Farm is an initiative that Heart for Africa has created to help achieve self-sustainability. This farm includes savvy techniques to increase profit and produce a harvest to ensure Swazis get the food they need.
One facet of the Project Canaan Farm is a dairy. Dairy products produced on the farm help improve bone health, decrease blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and enhance digestive wellness.
These dairy products go to the kids living in Heart for Africa's children's homes. Altogether, the kids consume 390 gallons of milk each month, and that number grows as the children develop and more kids arrive. These products are also sold to people in the local community.
To help ensure the children are consistently drinking enough milk, donate funds to help Heart for Africa purchase more dairy cows.
Another nourishing food that the Project Canaan Farm produces is eggs. This part of the farm is thriving with the help of generous gifts from the global egg community. Through this partnership, the egg farm provides fresh eggs to thousands of Swazis living throughout the country.
This nourishment has several beneficial properties, including antioxidants for the eyes, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs are also vitamin-rich, providing vitamin D, vitamin B2, folate selenium, and vitamins A, E, B5, and B12.
If you'd like to help reduce hunger in Eswatini by assisting with the purchase of more hens for the egg farm, donate to the Egg Project.
Heart for Africa doesn't just focus on helping its children, employees, and those in the nearby vicinity. The organization also partners with churches committed to giving food to the neediest children in the kingdom.
Together, Heart for Africa and local churches throughout Eswatini provide nourishing food, including sugar beans, eggs, and goats. These items are excellent sources of protein for children, and goat meat is a favorite among Swazis.
If you'd like to help Heart for Africa support local churches that are feeding vulnerable children in their communities, donate funds to help purchase the necessary foods.
While hunger in Eswatini affects everyone, children are the ones who are most impacted. When their parents or caretakers don't have a job or pass away because of HIV/AIDS, it makes it incredibly difficult for the children to get the food they need.
Many of the kids are malnourished, starving, and in critical condition before joining the family at Heart for Africa. Sometimes, a child's situation is so dire that their development has been stunted.
These vulnerable children are a reflection of what most kids in their communities are experiencing. However, Heart for Africa is serving alongside 30 church partners to reduce malnutrition in the 3,500 orphans and vulnerable children in their network. The goal is to eradicate malnutrition in these 3,500 children by providing a hot meal every single day to each one..
Achieving this goal requires Heart for Africa to provide a cooking structure at each church. These structures will include cooking pots, a water tank, serving spoons and bowls, a garden and fence, gardening tools, and two female employees who can cook and serve meals every day of the week.
The cost for one cooking structure is north of $5,000. If you'd like to contribute funds towards this project so that churches have the resources to feed vulnerable and orphaned children, please donate to the Hunger Initiative.
A step towards HOPE
While more work needs to be done, the five strategies above can start to help decrease hunger in Eswatini. Like everyone in the world, Swazis deserve a chance to live a life where they feel healthy, strong, and hopeful about the future.
The people in this kingdom deserve to have HOPE.
By joining together, you can help Khutsala Artisans and Heart for Africa focus on the H in HOPE. You can play a key role in reducing hunger in a vulnerable population and give children and adults a better quality of life.
So, if you're willing and able, don't hesitate to jump in. Come alongside Khutsala Artisans and Heart for Africa to help minimize hunger in Eswatini and instill HOPE in the lives of Swazis.
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