Many vulnerable households in Eswatini are facing challenges in maintaining livelihoods due to the severe impact of COVID-19. In response, the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) is collaborating with World Vision Eswatini (WVE) to implement the Cash Assistance Project to Complement Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project. The project officially started on July 15, 2021, and will aid vulnerable pregnant women to improve their health and nutritional status during their pregnancy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been raging the world for over one and a half years and has disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable, leading to “the new poor.” For Taiwan’s diplomatic ally in Africa, the Kingdom of Eswatini, COVID-19 has considerably impacted the country’s steadily developing economy and healthcare system. In addition, Eswatini’s government has also implemented several restriction measures in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, but these measures have also led to inflation. The consequences of COVID-19 plus recent protests have driven a great number of vulnerable households to lose or significantly decrease incomes and therefore are unable to obtain enough food. Many pregnant women among these vulnerable households cannot afford food costs for their nutrition needs and transportation costs for going to clinics to receive antenatal care, which has further increased their risks during labor.
The Taiwan Technical Mission in Eswatini, dispatched by the TaiwanICDF, has implemented the Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project in the Kingdom of Eswatini (Phase II) since 2019. The team is devoted to protecting maternal and child health in the country, and therefore has a deep understanding of the risks that vulnerable pregnant women are facing during this critical time. In order to assist Eswatini’s pregnant women to improve their situation, the TaiwanICDF utilizes the foundation built under the Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project and works with WVE to implement the Cash Assistance Project. Under the cash assistance project, 500 economically vulnerable pregnant women will be selected as the project’s beneficiaries and will receive cash assistance. They can then utilize the additional aid to improve their health and nutrition during pregnancy, and also complete four antenatal care appointments.