Talking Points of the UN Resident Coordinator at the Hand-Over of Agriculture Inputs to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, for Child-Headed Households

On Monday, 15th March, the UN Resident Coordinator handed over E600,000 worth of farm inputs to the Minister of Agriculture, for child-headed households.

  • Your Excellency, the Acting Prime Minister, Government officials, UN colleagues, ladies and gentlemen; it is with utmost humility that I stand here today, on behalf of the United Nations Development System in Eswatini, to hand-over agriculture inputs to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, for child-headed households.
  • Our nation is home to over 130,000 orphaned and vulnerable children; all of whom show tremendous courage and resilience in overcoming the obstacles they face every day. Supported by their grandparents, extended family or indeed, by themselves; orphans and vulnerable children face difficulties that no child should have to endure.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring great disruption and suffering to the world, including Eswatini; our children are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through lockdowns and closures of schools, have resulted in many children losing their daily source of nutrition through school-feeding programmes; a total of 370 million worldwide, as well as some losing their parents or grand-parents to COVID-related illnesses.
  • Compounded by the devastation of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, which has left over 1,800 children leading their households in Eswatini; the effects of climate-related disasters; and increasing hunger and poverty; our children continue to bear the burden of the Kingdom’s vulnerabilities.
  • Eswatini, in particular, faces a unique challenge in that children often lose the land on which they rely for their livelihoods, following the loss of their parents or guardians. As children suffer through this loss, they become exceptionally vulnerable to child-marriage, teenage pregnancies and child labour. In Eswatini, 87 of every 1,000 girls is falling pregnant, with complications in pregnancy and birth being the leading cause of deaths in girls aged 15 to 19. No girl-child should lose her life to pregnancy.
  • In this Decade of Action to achieve Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; our children must remain our focus. It is therefore pivotal that the leaders of Eswatini gather in solidarity to support them through this unprecedented time in history, and beyond.
  • The United Nations in Eswatini is therefore honoured to support the efforts of the Deputy Prime Minister and his Office, in empowering child-headed households with farm inputs for the protection of their livelihoods and production of their own food. We look forward to continuing to do so in future, across all regions of the country.
  • I would like to take this moment to commend the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister, as well as his team, for their tremendous efforts in ensuring that no child is left behind in Eswatini’s recovery from COVID-19. Your Excellency, your passion for children and the most vulnerable populations in our nation, is both inspiring and commendable. This passion is reflected in the 58,499 children who were supported through the DPMO’s OVC Education Grant in 2019 and 2020.
  • Today, we are reminded of the great words of the late Nelson Mandela; “The true character of society is revealed in how it treats its children.” Your Excellency, on behalf of the United Nations in Eswatini, and indeed, the people of this Kingdom; thank you.
  • Let us continue to work together to ensure that no child is left behind in Eswatini’s recovery from COVID-19, and beyond, for they are the future of our nation.

I thank you.

Speech by
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
Resident Coordinator
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Food Programme