| ||In southern Swaziland, we find a region where subsistence agriculture is dominant on small plots of land worked by village communities. Populated by a little more than 1 million inhabitants, Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world; owning an ox is a sign of tremendous wealth. The waves of prolonged drought and high temperatures during the 2006–7 season devastated the corn crop and resulted in the lowest annual harvest ever recorded, 60 percent lower than the previous year’s. In May 2007, the FAO estimated that 407,000 Swazis were being threatened by famine and that 40,000 T (35,710 t) of food would be needed to meet basic needs. Agriculture produces less than 10 percent of the national wealth, but employs 80 percent of the population. The national economy is undermined by malnutrition and poor access to drinking water, plus the ravages of AIDS (which affects 40 percent of the population). A prolonged major crisis is feared, particularly given that the cost of imported goods is constantly rising and that authorities seem unable to act without international aid and guidance.
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