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Felix Nkambule, Swaziland "The rains began late, but when it was falling I planted, and I prayed"

[Swaziland] Drought-hit field. IRIN
Poor rainfall in recent years has led to perennial water shortages

Erratic rainfall and hot summer weather has been the main culprits in the worsening of Swaziland's decade-old food crisis. Out of a national population thought to be slightly over one million people, the country's disaster relief task force estimates 330,000 require some form of food assistance. Among those are Felix Nkambule and his wife Ncane.

"The rains began a little late, but when it was falling I planted, and I prayed. Christmas, it is raining; January, it is raining still. But then no rain: I watched my crop die - there was nothing I could do.

"I let my cattle feed on the stunted maize stalks, that way I could find some use at least for what was left of the crop. When the cows finished, the weeds soon took over.

"We are grateful for food assistance, but my worry is things like the children's school fees. There was always some of the crop to be sold, and that brought us a little money - but not this year.

Ncane Nkambule (Felix' wife)

"Twice a month I must go to collect the food aid. I go to the distribution centre at the church run by [the aid agency] World Vision.

"My name is Ncane. This is the [SiSwati] word for "small". There was a time when this was a joke, because I was a fat woman - I was big and strong - but having no food has made me shrink. When you are hungry you are tired all the time, you get dizzy: I cannot push the wheelbarrow to the food [distribution point]. I pay a man with a truck R10 (US $1.60) to take our supplies to our house. It is costly, but there is no other way.

"There is no room in the truck for me - I walk home - it is seven kilometres, up and down hills."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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