Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Swaziland suspends pensions

This is a disaster. Swaziland has decided not to pay pensions for the quarter in March. The government is, instead, going to use the money to pay school fees for orphans and vulnerable children. Pensions aren't an extra here; they're not just a little boost that gives elderly people a bit of independence from their families. Pensions are a primary source of income for many people. Whole families of 6 or 7 people depend on pension payouts. Pensions pay for the mielie-meal that is the staple food. Pensions are how people eat. Grandparents are the primary caregivers for many, many children, sometimes because their parents are migrant labourers in South Africa, often because the parents have died of AIDS-related illnesses. As this article notes, these AIDS orphans will now be able to go to school, which is nice, they just won't have food, shelter or clothing. And winter is coming. Swaziland is in a massive financial crunch but this is absolutely not the answer. I really, really hope this wasn't part of the bail-out strategy proposed by the IMF.

Are any of the NGOs in Swaziland setting up some sort of intervention to mitigate the impact of this? Anyone know how to help?

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