A substantial increase in the number of Swazis requiring food aid has raised some questions in this Southern African country. Why the rise, and how long are the higher numbers likely to prevail? More fundamentally, what has caused such widespread and enduring hunger to begin with?
Swaziland is in the grip of another drought, and withered maize stalks in dusty fields, rural women who spend ever more time searching for potable water, residents of urban informal settlements forced to use polluted streams, and dropping river levels all testify to a water crisis.
Located on the outskirts of Swaziland's commercial hub, the state-of-the-art Manzini Waste Treatment Centre was built to end the city's sewage disposal problems. A World Bank loan was secured by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to construct the $16-million facility: a spotless, landscaped plant that has a lifespan of 25 years.
How is a small country to compete in a global marketplace where size is rewarded? Case in point is the tiny Southern African country of Swaziland, nestled between geographic giants South Africa and Mozambique. Its neighbouring countries also have booming economies, while Swaziland is mired in its 10th year of declining economic growth.
The plight of Aids orphans in Swaziland, currently labouring under the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, is an issue that demands coverage. Journalists often find themselves in a quandary concerning how best to tackle it, however. "A child could be scarred for life by something that is written about him or her," says Sara Page, assistant director of the Southern African Aids Information Dissemination Service.
''People who don't know me see this stylishly dressed young woman driving a nice car, and they think, ''Isn't she lucky? She has a rich man as a lover to give her things''', says Angela Shabalala as she manoeuvres her blue BMW sedan on to a highway leading to the Swazi capital, Mbabane. In fact, the 27-year-old bank employee used her own salary to buy the car, as well as her dresses and chic hairstyle.
A new advertising campaign aimed at curtailing teenage HIV rates by promoting abstinence is using a combination of traditional and modern values in its appeal to Swazi youth. The SiSwati phrase "<i>Ngoba likusasa nelami</i> [because tomorrow is mine]" has been chosen as the theme of the initiative, which got under way with full-page advertisements in Swaziland's two national newspapers.
A media scare in Swaziland about an imminent cut-off of the country's electricity by foreign suppliers has highlighted its near-total dependence on external power sources and jump-started contingency plans to expand domestic power production. Debate about power supplies has also been sparked by concerns as to how the growing needs of companies will be met.
When is a cow considerably more than the sum of its parts? When the animal happens to live in one of a good many developing countries, probably -- not least Swaziland. In this small Southern African state, cattle are, paradoxically, both slaughtered to mark cultural events and kept alive at all costs by owners who have grown attached to them.
For a country struggling with a stubborn unemployment rate of more than 40%, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seems a welcome solution to joblessness. So, it comes as no surprise that Swaziland's Minister of Enterprise and Employment, Lutfo Dlamini, is an enthusiastic proponent of these businesses.
Passions of the heart rather than financial woes account for a growing number of suicides in Southern African nations as diverse and as prosperous and well-developed as South Africa and small, traditional such as Swaziland. Teenage suicide is on the upswing, doubling since 1990 for children between the ages 10 and 14, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group.