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Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland

Social protection of vulnerable children including orphans

Ministry of Economic Planning and Development

Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland

October 2002

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Introduction

Country Background

17,364 square kilometres. Swaziland is classified as a lower middle-income economy with the Gross Domestic Product of about E 8102.0 million (about US$ 1350 million) and a GDP per capita of US$ 1298.0 (1999). Despite these promising income levels, there are still many Swazis living in conditions of abject poverty. About 66% of the population is living below the poverty line of about E71 per month. The impact and implication of this position poses a challenge to the country to overcome not only poverty but also the problems created by the poverty situation.

The economy of Swaziland is dependent on the performance of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The manufacturing sector is the major contributor to the country’s GDP and employment opportunities, whilst the agriculture mainly acts as a source of livelihood including meeting the basic food requirements for Swazis, particularly rural households. However, rural households are unable to meet their basic subsistence requirements. Previous studies have shown that only 40 percent of the rural households are able to produce enough food to meet their needs, the rest supplement their needs through remittances from employed relatives.

According to the 1997 population census, about 42.5% of the people are children below the age of 15 years, whilst those below 18 years constituted 54% of the population. The total fertility rate was estimated to be 5.6 percent live births per woman. The contraceptive prevalence in the country has increased steadily from 4% in 1980 to 34% in 1998.

The social structure of Swaziland is two-pronged. There is the traditional structure that is more family and community oriented and is the one that provides social protection for family and community members. In this instance, it was easy to get social, moral, psychological and material support from family and community members. However, the role that was played by this structure has been weakened and can no longer cope with the demands put on it. On the other hand, the modern structure is characterised by modern dictates, which incorporate modern behaviour, western family values and western legislation and governance.



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