Temhlanga Manana (41) is a farmer from Ntabinezimpisi area under Mayiwane Constituency in the Hhohho Region, northern Eswatini. Although farming remains the primary source of her livelihood, the impact of climate change has reduced her maize production, cutting down on her income and available food for her family.
"We used to sell our maize surplus, but now what we produce is not enough for the family," said the mother of five. She added, "Our place is also prone to droughts, and the recent heatwave destroyed all the maize in our fields." She used to cultivate maize from a 1.6-hectare land but ended up downscaling to 0.4 hectares to reduce the risk of spending too much money on farm input and not getting any yield. According to the Food Systems Profile – Eswatini (2022) report, average maize yields fluctuate according to rainfall, producing about 1.1 tonnes/hectare, well below the estimated potential of 4–6 tonnes/hectare.
Like some women in her area, Manana supplements her income by selling snacks to learners from nearby schools, but that is not enough. As a result, in 2022, she joined nine other women from her area who received training in liquid soap and all-purpose liquid cleaner production to help them diversify their income. They are part of 50 women trained in soap production under the India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA)-funded project on Water Sanitation and Hygiene Project (WASH) on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Adaptation. Launched in February 2022, the project aims to improve WASH practices in urban and rural areas.
"We started selling last year in November, and our product has been well received by the community and small businesses around Pigg's Peak, such as car wash establishments," said Manana. "We have just started but already see the potential to grow our market beyond our town." They are in the process of registering a cooperative and branding their product.
Dr Souleman Boukar, UNDP Economics Advisor, who was part of a recent field visit to the project site, appreciated the project's contribution to improving the beneficiaries' living conditions. Regarding soap production, he noted that each member earns a monthly income of about E700 ($ 42).
"This largely contributes to removing them from the fringe of populations living below the lower-middle-income countries of $3.65 (E66) per day such as Eswatini," he said.
Besides the support to diversify their income, the women are part of 1 200 people from 171 households from the constituency who were supported to access clean water through solar-powered boreholes connecting the households to taps closer to their homes. Two primary schools with an enrolment of 374 learners and 23 teachers also access clean water through the project. This has transformed the lives of residents in the water-stressed constituencies where most of the residents used to walk long distances to fetch unsafe water from rivers.
The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) is leading the implementation of the two-year project, which started in January 2022, working with WaterAid, Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT), Matsapha and Mbabane municipalities. UNDP is the executing entity on behalf of IBSA, which is hosted by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and provides project oversight. The total funding received from IBSA is $999,350 for two years between January 2022 and December 2023.