In Swaziland we currently support some 25,100 children and young people in 4 projects. We have been active in southern Africa since 1985. Our projects are located primarily in the provinces of Manzini, Shiselweni and Lubombo and are run by local partners.


The highest incidence of AIDS in the world

Swaziland holds the sad record of the world's highest HIV infection rate. The average life expectancy for Swazis is only 50 years. Due to the lack of a welfare system, many children and young people care for their terminally ill parents. This situation forces them to leave school and usually leaves them completely overwhelmed. The number of (AIDS) orphans is rising dramatically. One out of every five children grows up without parents. Nearly two-thirds of the population now live in poverty. Many people only survived the frequent periods of drought thanks to food aid from abroad.

Combating poverty is the main focus of our work. We motivate women to form self-help groups. Thanks to mutual assistance, collective learning and saving money, they can raise their families out of poverty. They help to give (AIDS) orphans new homes and a future that is worth living. Furthermore, they join us in urging the population to respect and defend children's rights.

The challenges

A child fills water from a tank into a bucket. (Source: Silvia Beyer)
Most Swazis live in great poverty.

Swaziland is the second smallest country in Africa and the only absolute monarchy in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati III is known for his luxurious lifestyle, while two-thirds of his people live in poverty.

70 percent of Swazis work in agriculture, and most of what they produce is for them and their families, not for sale. Periods of drought and failed harvests mean that roughly one-quarter of the population constantly depends on food aid from abroad.

Another factor that slows economic development is the spread of HIV infection. Approximately 27 percent of adults aged 15 to 49 is infected with the virus – the highest HIV infection rate in the world. The middle generation, which should generate the income for families, is dying off. One out of every five children grows up without parents.

In comparison to other African countries, Swaziland has a well-developed school system and a comparatively low illiteracy rate. School is not compulsory, but school uniforms and materials have to be paid for and, from the fifth grade, tuition fees are charged. Nevertheless, nearly 100 percent of school-aged children attend primary school. The high incidence of HIV and AIDS among teachers, however, has also led to a severe lack of teaching personnel and missed lessons, which prevents children from getting a good education.

  • Our work in the country

    With our projects and programmes we intend to combat poverty, support orphans and children in dire circumstances, support girls and help the population to respect and defend the rights of children on a daily basis.

    Our self-help group programme is a highly successful approach to helping people free themselves from poverty. Here it is above all women who learn how to generate a regular income. Their sons and daughters receive healthy meals and attend school. Now that they are backed by an entire group, women who come from a life of utter poverty become so self-assured that they address social problems at the community level and fight for changes. Entire village communities and city districts make great strides, and fewer children die of malnourishment or preventable diseases. Orphans and children in particularly dire circumstances are given new homes with foster families or are supported by the women in the self-help groups.

    Our three large vocational training centres offer socially disadvantaged young people the opportunity to learn a trade or gain knowledge about sustainable agriculture. They thus have good prospects on the labour market or can work independently. Furthermore, we support the only integrated school in the country with affiliated boarding facilities so children with special needs can also receive an education.

  • Key figures on Swaziland

    • 1.4 million people live in Swaziland
    • The average life expectancy in Swaziland is 51 years (ranking 220 out of 224 countries)
    • 120,000 children are orphans, 78,000 of them because of AIDS*
    • 27 % of the population is infected with HIV (highest prevalence of HIV in the world)
    • 41 % of the population lives below the poverty line*
    • 88 % of all Swazis can read and write

     Sources: World Factbook, *United Nations

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Swaziland: Escape from abject poverty

Two-thirds of Swaziland’s population live in abject poverty. In particular children are suffering. We aim at improving the lives of this population.

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Interview: The situation of children in Eswatini

Interview: The situation of children in Eswatini

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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