Swaziland is a small country
about the size of Wales surrounded by South Africa to the north, south and west
and Mozambique to the
east. It has a sub-tropical climate with about 75% of
total rainfall occurring from October to March, during
which time Malaria is highly prevalent.
addition to rainfall, Swaziland has four main rivers to
help its water supply;
the Komati and Lomati river
systems originates in South Africa then bend through
Swaziland before flowing back into South Africa and then
into Mozambique; the Mbuluzi River (right) originates in
Swaziland and flows out into Mozambique.
The Usuthu River again
originates in South Africa and flows out into Mozambique whilst the Ngwavuma, in
the south of the country, rises in Swaziland itself and flows into South Africa.
These rivers are home to nine major dams with seven being used for irrigation
purposes, one for hydroelectric purposes and just one for water supply.
These rivers together with
unprotected wells are the main source of water for most inhabitants in
Swaziland, particularly in rural communities where only 42% have access to tap
water (rising to 87% in urban areas), however the water in these rivers in often
contaminated and its use contributes to 80% of all sickness and diseases in
Swaziland, claiming the lives of one in ten children
under the age of 5yrs old.
Sanitation is also a major issue with 59% of the population using pit latrines
(left) in the absence of any proper facilities, and, again, this leads to health
issues. Climate change is also affecting the water situation in Swaziland. A
drought in 2007 was so severe that it was declared a national disaster; maize
production was 61% down on the previous year and an estimated 410,000 were in
need of humanitarian aid as a result.
drought also had an indirect impact on the HIV situation in the country as
patients ceased taking anti-retroviral drugs in the absence of food and the
worst affected areas reported significant increases in violence, school
absences, skin diseases, diarrhoea and child abuse.
have also seen a change to subsistence farming with ongoing declining harvests
leading to those working on the land moving away from growing the Swazi staple
crop of maize (introduced there in 1820 from the neighbouring Portuguese colony
of Mozambique) to 'cash crops' such as cotton. The difference being that
traditionally crops were grown to eat, whereas now many grow crops to sell to
whilst promoting a water product, gives a useful insight into the water
situation in Swaziland.