Stories written by James Hall

LABOUR: Africans Shun the Ocean Wave

At this bustling port, where massive cranes above cargo ships load and unload goods in perpetual motion, a strange division of labour is apparent.

House on Fire is creating opportunities for Swazi artists. Credit:  James Hall/IPS

CULTURE-SWAZILAND: ‘We’re Artists Now, Not Just Souvenir Makers’

A developing national arts scene requires a developing national arts center, with luck one that is owned and operated by artists themselves. In Swaziland, the growth of indigenous talent has been complemented by the flowering of a venue popular with performers, audiences and critics.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: Don't Blame Donor Dependency

What happens to a nation whose people depend on the largesse of international donor agencies for their existence, once support is withdrawn?

One in 3 Swazi children is an orphan -- as the grandparents who often care for them die, they will become still more vulnerable. Credit:  James Hall/IPS

HEALTH-SWAZILAND: AIDS Creating a Society in Distress

In a narrow and still winter-brown valley, little more than a crevice between rocky mountains, Gogo Ndlovu looks after her five young orphaned grandchildren.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: “Leadership Doesn’t Act Like It Is a Crisis”

A substantial increase in the number of Swazis requiring food aid has raised questions in this Southern African country. Why the rise, and how long are the higher numbers likely to prevail? More fundamentally, what has caused such widespread and enduring hunger to begin with?

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: To Relocate or Not To Relocate?

Climate change appears to have permanently altered certain areas of east and southern Swaziland, where good harvests have not been achieved for over a decade. Agriculture officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) now question whether these areas can still support communities.

SWAZILAND: Greatest Threat to Reform Is a Short Memory

Did Swaziland learn nothing from last year’s devastating drought? Some relief agencies and agricultural officials are shaking their heads in dismay that 2007’s devastating crop failures did not spark reform in the way land is utilised in this small country of less than one million people.

SWAZILAND: Income Rating Hobbles Aid Effort

Amanda Dube is literally ‘dirt poor’. Fierce bush fires ravaged Swaziland for months in 2007, and repeatedly swept over the hilly area of Mliba where she lives. Fires burned the trees and vegetation on the small sloping plot where the widowed mother of three attempts to scratch out a maize crop.

EDUCATION-SWAZILAND: Urban Youth Slipping Through The Cracks

As the new school year begins here many destitute or orphaned children are in need of assistance to pay for their educations. An unknown number of urban youngsters, however, are slipping through the social welfare net.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: Water – "Just a Matter of Delivery"?

The main religious ceremony of the Swazi people is the "Incwala" or ‘Festival of the First Fruits’, held in late December. Dressed in traditional attire, tens of thousands of Swazi men and women dance and chant prayers to their ancestors. They seek good rains that will ensure abundant crops.

HEALTH-SWAZILAND: Septic Tanks Preferred to the Latest in Sewage Treatment

Located on the outskirts of Swaziland's commercial hub, the state of the art Manzini Waste Treatment Centre was built to end the city's sewage disposal problems. A World Bank loan was secured by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to construct the 16 million dollar facility: a spotless, landscaped plant which has a lifespan of 25 years.

SWAZILAND: Keep School Doors Open to AIDS Orphans, Vulnerable Kids

AIDS orphans aren't the only children suffering in Swaziland. Those who have lost one or both parents to the epidemic have it rough, but so do tens of thousands of other Swazi children vulnerable to food shortages, scant medical care, and unsettled home life.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: Squatters Make Communities Out Of Chaos

Swaziland's civic and national authorities are tackling the growing blight of informal settlements with plans to make squatters the owners of their own properties, and allow them access to sanitary and other city services.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: Aid Initiatives Not to Be Taken on Faith

Faith-based organisations that wish to succeed with humanitarian projects in Swaziland have been advised to take into consideration the views and sensibilities of indigenous populations, even if the benefactors believe they are on a mission from God and know what is best for the local people.

CHALLENGES 2005-2006: Swaziland Facing Tenth Year of Declining Growth

How is a small country to compete in a global marketplace where size is rewarded? Case in point is tiny Swaziland, nestled between giants South Africa and Mozambique. Its neighbouring countries also have booming economies, while Swaziland is mired in its tenth year of declining economic growth.

CHALLENGES 2005-2006: Swaziland Facing Tenth Year of Declining Growth

How is a small country to compete in a global marketplace where size is rewarded? Case in point is the tiny Southern African country Swaziland, nestled between the geographic giants South Africa and Mozambique. Its neighbouring countries also have booming economies, while Swaziland is mired in its tenth year of declining economic growth.

RIGHTS-SWAZILAND: Reporting on AIDS Orphans a Balancing Act

The plight of AIDS orphans in Swaziland, currently labouring under the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, is an issue that demands coverage. Journalists often find themselves in a quandary concerning how best to tackle it, however.

CULTURE-SWAZILAND: Sugar Daddies – The Bitter Truth

"People who don’t know me see this stylishly-dressed young woman driving a nice car, and they think, ‘Isn’t she lucky? She has a rich man as a lover to give her things’," says Angela Shabalala as she manoeuvres her blue BMW sedan onto a highway leading to the Swazi capital, Mbabane.

DEVELOPMENT-SWAZILAND: Farm More, Farm Better

While Swaziland's soaring HIV prevalence and the spending habits of King Mswati the Third are issues which often land the country in the headlines, problems also loom on another front: about a quarter of Swazis are currently dependent on international food aid.

HEALTH-SWAZILAND: A Message to Teenagers – Take Charge!

A new advertising campaign aimed at curtailing teenage HIV rates by promoting abstinence is using a combination of traditional and modern values in its appeal to Swazi youth.

ENVIRONMENT: Poaching Declining In Swaziland

In the little kingdom of Swaziland, a tough animal preservation law has cut poaching by 90 percent since its enactment ten years ago, while the bloody extinction of rhino has come entirely to a halt.

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