Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Lawton Nalley

Committee Member

Jennie Popp

Second Committee Member

Thula Dlamini

Third Committee Member

Phillipp Grundmann


Government Intervention, Infrastructure, Livelihoods, Rural Development


The 2016 Eswatini Vulnerability Assessment Report indicated that over half of the Eswatini population required livelihood support due to the severe El Niño drought. Since agriculture is the backbone of Eswatini’s economy, investments in climate change mitigation are needed in order to help protect the agriculture sector and associated livelihoods from increased yield and profit variability associated with future droughts. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimates climate change in Eswatini could reduce rain-fed agricultural yields by up to 50%, threating the ability of Eswatini to be food secure. As such, investing in water capture systems could help mitigate changes to both the amount and frequency of rainfall. Investments in water storage could be viewed as a type of food security insurance in the Eswatini context.

The Government of Eswatini commissioned the construction of the Lubovane Dam in 2003 to provide water, both for agricultural and household usage, as part of the Lower Usuthu Irrigation Project (LUSIP). LUSIP aimed to provide irrigation water for 11,500 ha by 2015. LUSIP was also forecasted to provide an additional 750,000-person days /year of on-farm employment mainly on sugarcane, banana, and maize fields and 36,000 days of non-farm employment/year in the new businesses and services that would have emerged after its completion in 2010. Eswatini had to allocate limited public funds for the implementation of LUSIP and without tangible evidence on the returns on investment, obtaining funding or future irrigation projects could be -difficult. As such, in 2018 the Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC) set out to estimate the benefits of LUSIP in the town of Siphofaneni using a comprehensive survey. Using the data collected by SEPARC this study set out to validate the LUSIP impact through social, economic and environmental metrics. The survey results suggest that LUSIP has provided employment opportunities, increased wages and incomes, thus increasing the people’s ability to save. The survey also found that the increased income and savings appeared to lead to increased food security as more people can now afford purchase their basic food needs as water is now more readily available throughout the year.