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Construction declines as impact of HIV/AIDS builds up
Sunday 6 March 2005
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SWAZILAND: Construction declines as impact of HIV/AIDS builds up

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Amos Mhlanga at his abandoned house construction site

MBABANE, 5 November (PLUSNEWS) - The rate of construction in Swaziland has more than halved as a result of the AIDS pandemic, as property owners and small businesses are forced to spend more money on medical bills and funerals.

According to the Central Bank of Swaziland, the number of completed buildings plunged by 54 percent in 2004.

"We are issuing fewer building licenses and obtaining fewer property taxes because the buildings people had hoped to construct have had to be postponed or cancelled - that's less revenue for the towns," a city planner in the commercial hub of Manzini, 35km east of the capital, Mbabane, told PlusNews.

Amos Mhlanga, 24, a resident of Matsapha, an industrial town near Manzini, has been unable to complete building his home due to illness.

"This was supposed to be my wife's and my first home. We were only able to put up the walls - the money we had to buy windows and doors and roofing sheets was all used up for medicine," said Mhlanga, who, along with his wife, is HIV positive.

If Mhlanga fails to complete the building work in the time specified on his permit, he has to reapply, and pay additional fees.

"I cannot say when I can build again. I am not abandoning this project, but there is no money to continue - my wife and I are ill. Our two children are too poor to maintain a house," he explained.

While similar stories abound throughout the country's urban centres, home improvements have also stagnated in rural areas.

"Health officials and the humanitarian organisations are educating people on the need for solid housing and hygienic facilities, like toilets. People want these things, but because of AIDS they must put them off," said health motivator Thokozani Khoza. An estimated 40 percent of Swazis are living with HIV, the highest prevalence rate in the world.

The impact of the virus has taken an enormous toll on the rural population.

"The elderly and children left behind by the disease are in no position, physically or financially or in terms of skills, to build better houses or improve the mud huts where they live. All over you see thatch blowing off of grass huts, leaving big holes for the rain to come in, and mud walls falling apart," Khoza commented.

According to the UN Development Programme, five percent of households in the tiny mountain kingdom own 26 percent of national income, while the bottom 40 percent of households has just 11 percent.


Recent SWAZILAND Reports
Humanitarian crisis worsening, warn relief agencies,  28/Feb/05
Targeting HIV/AIDS in the workplace,  17/Feb/05
HIV-positive women's group creates agricultural cooperative,  14/Feb/05
Top officials of trade unions publicly tested for HIV,  4/Feb/05
Tempers flare as govt pays orphans' school fees,  27/Jan/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

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