The 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report indicates that the world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has been living in cities, and that share is projected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030.
Cities and metropolitan areas are powerhouse of economic growth-contributing about 60 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product GDP. However, they also account for about 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and over 60 per cent of resource use. Rapid urbanization is resulting in a growing number of slum dwellers, inadequate and overburdened infrastructure and services (such as waste collection and water and sanitation systems, roads and transport), worsening air pollution and unplanned urban sprawl.
To respond to those challenges, over 150 countries have developed national urban plans, with almost half of them in the implementation phase. Ensuring that those plans are well executed will help cities grow in a more sustainable and inclusive manner. According to the report, rapid urbanization and population growth rate are outpacing the construction of adequate and affordable housing. The proportion of the urban population living in slums worldwide, declined by 20 per cent between 2000 and 2014 (from 28 per cent to 23 per cent).
That positive trend recently reversed course, and the proportion grew to 23.5 per cent in 2018. The absolute number of people living in slums or informal settlements grew to over 1 billion, with 80 per cent attributed to three regions: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (370 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (238 million) and Central and Southern Asia (227 million). An estimated 3 billion people will require adequate and affordable housing by 2030.
The reports indicated that the growing number of slum dwellers is the result of both urbanization and population growth that are outpacing the construction of new affordable homes. Adequate housing is a human right, and the absence of it negatively affects urban equity and inclusion, health and safety, and livelihood opportunities. It further noted that renewed policy attention and increased investments are needed to ensure affordable and adequate housing by 2030.
Further, the report highlighted that access to public transport is increasing, but faster progress is needed in developing countries. Public transport is an essential service for urban residents and a catalyst for economic growth and social inclusion. Moreover, with ever-increasing numbers of people moving to urban areas, the use of public transport is helping to mitigate air pollution and climate change.
According to 2018 data from 227 cities, in 78 countries, 53 per cent of urban residents had convenient access to public transport (defined as residing within 500 metres walking distance of a bus stop or a low-capacity transport system or within 1000 metres of a railway and ferry terminal). In most regions, the number of people using public transport rose by nearly 20 per cent between 2001 and 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind, with only 18 per cent of its residents having convenient access to public transport.
In some regions with low access, informal transport modes are widely available and, in many cases, provide reliable transport. Stronger efforts are needed to ensure that sustainable transport is available for all, particularly to vulnerable populations such as women, children, seniors and persons with disabilities.
Municipal waste, as communicated on the report, is mounting, highlighting the growing need for investment in urban infrastructure. Globally, over 2 billion people were without waste collection services, and 3 billion people lacked access to controlled waste disposal facilities, according to data collected between 2010 and 2018. The problem will only worsen as urbanization increases, income levels rise and economies become consumer-oriented. The total amount of waste generated globally is expected to double from nearly 2 billion metric tons in 2016 to about 4 billion metric tons by 2050.
The proportion of municipal solid waste collected regularly increased from 76 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to 81 per cent between 2010 and 2018. But that does not mean that it was disposed of properly. Many municipal solid waste facilities in low- and middle-income countries are open dumpsites, which contribute to air, waste, land and soil pollution, including by plastic waste, as well as emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane. Investment in waste management infrastructure is urgently needed to improve the handling of solid waste across much of the world.
In many cities, the reported said air pollution has become an unavoidable health hazard. It noted that nine out of ten urban residents in 2016 were breathing polluted air- that is, air that did not meet the World Health organization WHO air quality guidelines for annual mean levels of fine particulate matter of 10 micrograms or less per cubic metre. More than half of those people were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2, 5 times above the guideline value. Air quality worsened between 2010 and 2016 for more than 50 per cent of the world’s population. Central and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the two regions that saw the largest increases in particulate and mater concentrations.
In low- and middle-income countries, the air quality of 97 per cent of cities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants did not meet the air quality guidelines in 2016, compared to 49 per cent in high-income countries. Ambient air pollution from traffic, industry, power generation, waste burning and residential fuel combustion, combined with household air pollution, poses a major threat to both human health and efforts to curb climate change. More than 90 per cent of air pollution related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.
In that report, it was shared that open public spaces make cities more inclusive, but many residents are not within easy walking distance of them. A connective matrix of streets and public spaces forms the skeleton of the city upon which everything else rests. Where public space is inadequate, poorly designed or privatised, the city becomes increasingly segregated. Investment in networks of streets and open public spaces improved productivity, livelihoods and access to markets, jobs and public services, especially in countries where over half of the urban workforce is informal.
Based on 2018 data from 220 cities, in 77 countries, few cities have been able to implement a system of open public spaces that covers entire urban areas- that is, within easy reach of all residents. Findings show that the average share of the population within 400 metres walking distance of an open public space is around 31 per cent, with a huge variations among cities (from a low of 5 per cent to a high of 90 per cent). A low percentage does not necessarily mean that an inadequate share of land is open public space, but rather that the distribution of such spaces across the city is uneven.
Meanwhile, the report indicated that inequality within and among countries is a persistent cause of concern, despite progress in some areas. It shared that income inequality continues to rise in many parts of the world, even as the poorest 40 per cent of the population in most countries experience income growth. Greater focus is needed to reduce income and other inequalities, including those related to labour market access and trade. Specifically, additional efforts are needed to further increase zero-tariff access for exports from poorer countries, and to provide technical assistance to LDCs and small island developing states seeking to benefit from preferential trade status.
Data show mixed progress on the sharing of prosperity within countries. To gauge whether the poorest people in a country are participating in economic progress, the report said, it is useful to compare the growth of household income, or consumption of the poorest 40 per cent with that of the population as a whole. That provides one indication of whether overall prosperity is being shared with the bottom 40 per cent of the income ladder in a country.
In 92 countries with comparable data over the period 2011 to 2016, the results were mixed. In 69 countries, the poorest 40 per cent saw their income grow, but with large variations among countries. In 50 of those 69 countries, income growth in the poorest 40 per cent of the population was faster than the national average. Notably, however, the bottom 40 per cent still received less than 25 per cent of overall income. In many countries, an increasing share of income goes to the top 1 per cent.
Data measuring household income for that analysis were limited. Only 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had data on income growth for the most recent period. That points to the on-going need for improved data collection and statistical capacity-building, especially in the poorest countries. The report underlined that rich and poor countries alike can benefit from policies promoting equality and inclusivity. It shared that an important development of objective for many countries is easing inequality and addressing social inclusion.
One indicator of relative poverty and inequality is the share of people living below 50 per cent of the median income level. An analysis of data from 10 high- and low income countries showed that the median country had 14 per cent of the population with income levels below that threshold. The most unequal country had 26 per cent below that threshold, and the most equal country had 3 per cent. But both rich and poor countries have high and low levels of inequality. Income inequality is not strongly correlated with either poverty of affluence, suggesting that policies promoting equality and inclusivity have universal relevance.
Countries with a high proportion of non-performing loans need to attend to the health of their banking systems; this is according to the report. It stressed that the stability of a country’s financial system is key to efficiently allocating resources, managing risks, and ensuring that macroeconomic objectives that benefit all are met. One measure of financial stability is the share of non-performing loans in relation to total loans to depositors in a banking system.
An analysis of 138 countries from 2010 to 2017 showed that, in half of the countries, non-performing loans made up less than 5 per cent of total loans. In 207, more than one quarter of the countries showed a higher percentage of non-performing loans, 10 per cent or more, and four countries showed a proportion higher than 30 per cent. A high proportion of non-performing loans usually affects profitability and undermines the broader business environment, which can have consequences for economic growth, unemployment and other factors affecting inequality.
Globally, the share of national output used to remunerate workers is declining; this has been shared by the report. The share of national income that goes to labour is one indication of whether economic growth will translate into higher incomes for workers over time. Increased national income can lead to improved living standards, but that depends on its contribution across aspects of production, including labour, capital and land.
The report noted that globally, the share of national income going to labour has shown a downward trend since 2004. That means that the share of national output used to remunerate workers has declined. The decrease was temporarily reversed during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 due to a sudden contraction in GDP. Central and Southern Asia and Europe and Northern America were the main drivers of the declining global labour share.
Between 2004 and 2017, the adjusted labour share of GDP decreased by more than 5 percentage points in Central and Southern Asia, from 51.2 per cent to 45.8 per cent, and close to 2 percentage points in Europe and Northern America, from 59.6 per cent to 57.6. Conversely, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the labour income share increased from 48.4 to 50.5 per cent during the same period.
It was further communicated that lower-income countries continue to benefit from preferential trade status. Duty-free access continued to increase for exports from LDCs, small island developing states and developing regions at large. LDCs saw that the biggest benefits: coverage of duty-free treatment increased by 5.5 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, reaching 65.6 per cent of exports. About 51 per cent of exports from developing regions have now become eligible for duty-free treatment.
At the sector level, improvements in the treatment of LCDs were primarily due to growing duty-free access for agricultural and industrial products. However, such access for LDCs and other developing countries is not automatic at customs checkpoints. Exporters need to comply with rules-of-origin certification processes to benefit from preferential treatment. Those procedures the report said can be costly and time-consuming for small and medium sized enterprises, lowering their incentive to apply for preferential treatment.
In conclusion, the report stressed that policies to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration are widespread, but far from universal. It underlined that the majority of countries have policies that facilitate the orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. Yet significant differences can be found across the six policy domains of this indicator.
For each domain, more than half of the 105 countries with available data have a comprehensive set of policy measures, meaning that they reported having migration policy measures for 80 per cent or more of the subcategories of each domain. Migrant rights and socioeconomic well-being are the areas demonstrating the largest policy gaps, with over 40 per cent of countries lacking a comprehensive set of measures in those domains. Policies to promote cooperation and partnerships and to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration are the most widespread, with more than three quarters of countries reporting a wide range of such measures.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.