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The Kingdom of Eswatini announced her first COVID-19 case in February 2020 and as such announced a state of National Disaster in March 2020 which was succeeded by introduction of total lockdown restrictions to contain the situation. A lot of vulnerable populations were adversely affected by the measures introduced to manage the infection rates at national level. The effects went from loss of job, loss of livelihoods, loss of income, increased domestic violence as well as increased violence against children. Eswatini has made tremendous progress in the response plan as well as treatment, care and support of the affected and infected population, with just over 600 deaths and close to 19,000 infections and approximately 18,000 recovery cases since the first case in 2020. As part of the response strategies through the coordination of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) humanitarian response Clusters were activated and started mapping, assessments and mobilizing resources for interventions based on some evidence and vulnerability analysis.

The Protection Cluster was amongst the clusters activated for the same course. This particular cluster focuses on the Socio-economic impacts of a humanitarian situation to provide social protection cushions and thus targets the interventions towards the most vulnerable groups of our societies including women and children, persons with disabilities, asylum-seekers and refugees as well as people living with HIV and other key populations/ populations at risk.

The interventions range from risk mitigation, protection as well as resilience building amongst the targeted vulnerable populations in the urban and rural areas, including those living in the Malindza Refugee Reception Centre. In an unfortunate turn of events Eswatini has recently in the advent of a Global Epidemic been challenged by yet another catastrophe leading to another humanitarian situation. From the 29th June up to the first week of July 2021, Eswatini saw majority of young people of both sexes take to the streets after government’s suspension of delivery of political petitions through the Constituency Structures. These petitions were reported to be centered around calls for a pro-democratic society and system of government in Eswatini. This spiraled quickly to violent protests coupled with the setting up of unofficial roadblocks, looting and vandalization of businesses and burning of same in some instances. This Resulted in loss, injuries, arrests and traumatic experiences in families and communities impacting more on the vulnerable populace.

The UN therefore in partnership with the DPMO’s office (DSW and DGFI) who chairs the Social protection group seeks to engage a local consultant to conduct a rapid assessment to ascertain the magnitude of the effects on socio-economic factors in the affected communities in the Kingdom.