The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small land-locked country, covering 17,364 km2 and bordering South Africa and Mozambique. The country is divided into four administrative regions namely, Hhohho, Manzini, Shiselweni and Lubombo that devolve into 55 local administration areas Tinkhundla and over 360 Chiefdoms. The country enjoys a young and growing population of 1.2 million people, 53 per cent women. Majority of the population is young with those under the age of 20 accounting for 52 per cent of the population. Swaziland is classified as a lower middle income country with a GDP of $6.259 billion (World Bank, 2016). The economy is predominantly agriculture-based with 77 per cent of the population residing in rural areas and deriving their livelihoods from subsistence agriculture. The National Development Strategy, Vision 2022provides the overarching framework for Swaziland long-term focus towards innovative solutions and partnerships for sustainable economic growth through enhanced social capital involved in poverty eradication and building of resilient communities The Government’s National Programme of Action 2013-2018 guides the processes pursuant to address the adverse impacts on the global financial and economic performance in the quest for upholding sustainable economic growth.
The people of Swaziland Emaswati under King Sobhuza I established themselves in the modern Swaziland in the 1840s. In 1881 the Pretoria Convention guaranteed the independence of Swaziland, its boundary and Swazi people in their country as recognised by both Britain and the Transvaal. Throughout the colonial period from 1906 to 1968, Swaziland was governed by a Resident Commissioner who ruled under the British. Swaziland got her independence on the 6th September 1968 under the leadership of King Sobhuza II, succeeded by King Mswati III in 1986 to-date. Over the years, His Majesty King Mswati III has established an amended Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland which was launched in 2005 through ancient traditions and culture that work hand in hand with modern governance. The Swazis continue to embraces and uphold unique cultures and traditions, carefully guarding and proudly celebrating them.
Swaziland continues to face development challenges which include: slow economic growth, below two per cent; high levels of inequality (0.51 Gini co-efficient) and poverty 63 per cent; high unemployment rates especially among youth (over 56 per cent); high incidence and prevalence of communicable (HIV and TB) and non-communicable diseases in the face of health system constraints; high maternal mortality; and high levels of chronic malnutrition (25 per cent). Other challenges include increasing numbers of vulnerable households due to the recent 2015/2016 El Nino resulting to 26 percent of the population needing food assistance; low participation of women in decision-making; high incidence of violence, particularly gender based violence against children and women; and high rates of teenage pregnancy. While the recent 2016 Mo Ibrahim Report indicates an improvement in the country’s ranking, upholding of human rights and participation in national development were highlighted as areas lagging behind to facilitate access to justice and enjoyment of human rights by the populace.
Successes into the SDG 2030 Agenda
The Government of Swaziland has continued to work with the global community and ratify International Conventions and instruments creating a legal and policy framework for realization of international commitments. Swaziland had a mixed outcome in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): and achieved MDG 2 (Universal primary education), MDG 3 (Promote gender equality and empower women), and MDG 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases). While MDG 7 (Ensure environmental sustainability) was partly achieved MDG 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty), MDG 4 (Reduce child mortality) and in particular MDG 5 (Improve maternal health) need acceleration into the Sustainable Development Goal 2030 Agenda.