The small town of Nhlangano has a population of just over 9,000 and is located in the south-west of Eswatini in the Shiselweni District.
The distribution of wealth remains extremely unequal in Eswatini, and Shiselweni is one of the country’s poorest regions. It is hit particularly hard by recurring droughts, which devastates the livelihoods of many people who rely on agriculture as a source of income and food. Many children suffer from undernourishment.
Furthermore, the region is severely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and many children are without parental care due to the virus. As a consequence, they have to fend for themselves and rarely go to school.
Since 2001, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Nhlangano.
Shiselweni is one of the country’s poorest regions. The situation is particularly grave in rural areas, where around 6 in 10 people live in poverty. The majority of people rely on farming as a source of income and to feed their families. However, the region is very prone to drought. In recent years, drought significantly decreased crop production, killed livestock and devastated livelihoods throughout Shiselweni. Many people do not get enough food, and this has detrimental effects on children’s growth. Furthermore, water shortages put children at increased risk of contracting water-borne diseases.
Like in other parts of the country, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a serious challenge in Shiselweni. Around a quarter of the population is infected with HIV and life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world. Children and young people are hit the hardest: thousands of children have lost their parents to HIV and now fend for themselves. Those who have lost parental care, or those living in vulnerable households affected by HIV/AIDS, are least likely to complete their basic education. In fact, around 25% of all children drop out of primary school. Without an education, the chances of getting a job are low; youth unemployment is a significant challenge in the area.