afrol News, 15 October - Swaziland is one of very few African countries where hunger has become more widespread during the last decades, new evidence shows. But Swazi authorities tried to manipulate data to the UN, saying the opposite.
A thorough report from the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released this week showed that most of Africa was making significant gains fighting hunger from 1990 to 2010. Only a few countries hit by civil war saw a deterioration, and ... The Gambia and Swaziland.
Today, 18 percent of Swaziland's one million people are suffering from hunger, compared to 12 percent in 1990. In addition, 6.1 percent of Swazi children under five are underweight, compared to 8.1 percent in 1992.
The IFPRI report concludes that Swaziland has moved from being a nation with a "moderate" hunger problem to one with a "serious" problem during the last two decades. "In Swaziland, the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, coupled with high inequality, has severely undermined food security despite higher national incomes," the report states.
For Swazi authorities, the total failure in fighting hunger obviously is causing embarrassment. Government, with totalitarian King Mswati III as the front figure, have repeatedly declared their dedication to the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include the fight against hunger.
Government leaders and the King steadily claim the kingdom is doing well trying to achieve the MDGs. Even at the UN General Assembly meeting in September, King Mswati said his government was committed to "eradicate extreme poverty and attaining the goals by putting in place policies and programmes that are aimed at stimulating growth."
To document its claims, government doctored a report to the UN ahead of the September event, it was revealed by the 'Times of Swaziland', the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom.
A report it commissioned to review the progress government was making to achieve the MDGs said clearly that Swaziland was "not likely" meet the MDG target of halving hunger and poverty in the country by 2015.
However, when members of the Swazi cabinet saw the report it had commissioned, they decided to change the conclusion so that it read it could "potentially" meet the target. A source told the 'Times of Swaziland' the Cabinet "edited" the report because they felt it would portray the country negatively.
The source told the Swazi newspaper that ministers demanded the changes because the truth "made it seem as if they were not doing their jobs" and "might actually lead to their dismissal."
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