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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title A Review of Social Assistance Grants in Swaziland
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
URL http://www.infocenter.nercha.org.sz/sites/default/files/SocialAssistanceGrants.pdf
This study is an assessment of social assistance in Swaziland, with specific focus on the
Old Age Grant (OAG) and the Public Assistance Grant (PAG) which constitute the
country’s two largest cash-based social transfers. Social assistance refers to state funded
social security benefits which are targeted to people in needy situations. The OAG
provides for the elderly who are above the age of 60; and the PAG covers all vulnerable
groups below the age of 60 who are not beneficiaries of any other grant or source of
income. Prominent beneficiaries of the PAG grant are the destitute as well as persons
with disabilities.
Both social assistance grants are an outcome of policy responses aimed at addressing
income poverty. 69% of the Swaziland population are assumed to be living below the
poverty line of US $ 1 per day. This staggering statistic is a stark reflection of the hunger
and vulnerability afflicting the nation. The key factors that underpin Swaziland’s social
vulnerability are the devastating impact of the HIV& AIDS pandemic with national HIV
prevalence estimated at 39% in 2006; increasing food insecurity due to persistent drought
conditions in certain regions of the country; low economic growth levels (below 2% in
2006/7); shrinking agricultural output and rising unemployment. In 2002 the
unemployment rate was 34.2 %.
The outcome of the unfavourable socio-economic conditions has been a steep decline in
the quality of life for the bulk of the population as well as increased vulnerability for
children, the elderly and the urban and rural poor. The impact of HIV&AIDS;,
unemployment and rising poverty and the corresponding decrease in purchasing power
exposes many households to food insecurity. These conditions made it imperative for the
state to provide social assistance aimed at addressing income poverty. In the words of the
Prime Minister, ‘the payment of social grants was in line with government efforts to fight
poverty’ (Swaziland Today, No 24, 2006: 3).

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