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May 27, 2021
It's no secret that the pandemic has affected everyone. You can look far and wide and find everyone in between sharing a story about how COVID-19 has impacted their daily life.
Many people have lost jobs, loved ones, financial stability, and general confidence about the future. However, people are trying to move forward now that economies are reopening and vaccines are becoming available.
Those who are experiencing this return to normalcy are understandably excited and ready for what's ahead. Yet, there are many people who aren't as thrilled, and it's not because things are returning to normal. It's because normalcy still looks so far away.
In Eswatini—a small southern kingdom in Africa—Swazis are struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives that the pandemic shattered. While the government is doing what it can to help, many Swazis are still experiencing hardships that are starting to gain international attention, and one of those hardships is hunger.
Hunger in Eswatini was a pre-pandemic problem
Hunger has always been a primary issue in Eswatini. Although efforts to alleviate the problem are ongoing, the kingdom still suffers from severe unemployment and poverty, leaving Swazis with few opportunities to regularly put food on the table for their families.
Making matters worse, the weather in Southern Africa is unpredictable, and those living in the region are currently in the midst of a climate emergency. At the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic reached Eswatini, widespread flooding and frequent droughts had left 45 million people across Southern Africa with severe food shortages, and women and children bore the brunt of this issue.
The Southern African Development Community—a region consisting of 16 nations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identifies as a climate "hotspot"—hasn't had a normal growing season in the past five years. The UN reports that seasonal rains have been late in many countries, contributing to an unprecedented hunger crisis.
The problem is so bad that it's reached a level the World Food Programme has never witnessed before. Their independent assessment found that the number of food-insecure districts has doubled, and an additional 1.1 million people in Southern Africa face acute malnutrition.
Among the nations hit hardest is Eswatini. Before the pandemic reached its borders, Swazis were already struggling to find consistent sources of food, and COVID-19 has only made things worse.
The impact of COVID-19 on hunger in Eswatini
As a result of COVD-19, more than 347,000 Swazis, including 180,000 children, are encountering acute food shortages. What was once primarily fueled by erratic weather conditions, hunger in Eswatini has become an even bigger issue because of job losses and steep food prices that people encountered during the pandemic.
Research suggests that 60,000 Swazis are now "experiencing emergency levels of hunger, meaning that without immediate action, they could face starvation or even death." These numbers are high for any nation, but they're especially high in places like Eswatini, where the population is only 1.1 million. A third of the kingdom is experiencing hunger, and hundreds of thousands of children face the worst aspects of the issue.
Towards the end of 2020, The Global Network Against Food Crises held an event to provide the latest data on how COVID-19 was impacting hunger in places like Eswatini, where the issue was already thriving. Multiple leaders presented different strategies to alleviate the problem.
One strategy focused on pairing developed countries with those most in need to "accelerate agri-food system transformation," and another approach honed in on decreasing the immediate effects of the pandemic while "strengthening the long-term resilience of food systems and livelihoods."
How you can help decrease hunger in Eswatini
If you want to help counter COVID-19's impact on the hunger crisis in Eswatini, you do have the opportunity to make a significant contribution.
Khutsala Artisans supports orphaned and vulnerable children in Eswatini by giving all of its profits to Heart for Africa, a faith-based humanitarian organization. With the money, Heart for Africa helps decrease hunger in Eswatini and specifically focuses on one of the groups most affected: children.
If you want to come alongside this mission to decrease hunger in Eswatini, Khutsala Artisans sells beautiful handmade home decor and jewelry that you can buy. In fact, in the spirit of helping reduce hunger, here are five kitchen items that you can purchase from Khutsala Artisans.
If you don't like water rings from coffee mugs and cups staining your furniture, then you should check out the handmade Wood Coasters. Carved from a bloodwood tree in Eswatini, these items showcase the vibrant dark red sap that oozes out whenever the tree is cut. Beautiful and unique, these coasters come in a set of four that are great for gatherings or everyday use.
Buy the Wood Coasters HERE.
There's nothing like enjoying the beautiful weather by having a picnic or people over to hang out. To set up the food for either activity, check out Khutsala Artisans' Charcuterie Board. Also crafted from the unique bloodwood trees in Eswatini, this handmade item is elegantly cut with smooth edges and mesmerizing colors. The charcuterie board also comes in two sizes.
Buy the Charcuterie Board HERE.
Add some flair to your wine glasses by buying the Wine Glass Charms. Available in sets of six, each charm is made from SwaziMUD beads, which are hand-rolled and glazed by artisans. Additionally, all of the sets have different themes. One comes with silver charms that symbolize hope, while another contains sky-blue beads with leafy charms attached at the ends.
Buy the Wine Glass Charms HERE.
Handcrafted in Eswatini, the Lucky Seed Bowls feature beautiful beads that come in various natural colors, including ivory, mahogany, and olive. Building this unique bowl requires three artisans, one of whom creates the frame while another strings the beads and the other wraps the beads onto the frame. Available in multiple sizes, the largest bowl is a great place to house fresh apples, oranges, and bananas on your countertop.
Buy the Lucky Seed Bowl HERE.
This item may not be something for your kitchen, but it's definitely something you can wear in your kitchen. The Share Hope T-Shirt pushes Khutsala Artisans and Heart for Africa's mission to the forefront.
Each letter in the word represents something specific: H stands for hunger, O stands for orphans, P stands for poverty, and E stands for education. These areas of life are the sole focuses for Khutsala Artisans and Heart for Africa, so wear this t-shirt to showcase the mission you're helping achieve.
Buy the Share Hope T-Shirt HERE.
The road to helping Eswatini recover
As with anything, it's not going to be easy to help Eswatini recover from the effects of COVID-19, especially since Swazis were already facing an uphill battle. But with more people's help and commitment, everyone—including those who need it most—can bounce back from the pandemic stronger than ever before.
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