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UN’s Human Rights Council commends Botswana

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has commended Government’s efforts in the provision of water and sanitation services to citizens with latest figures showing that 79 per cent of the national population now has access to water on their households.

This was announced early this month by the UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, Léo Heller at the UN headquarters in New York as part of his follow-up research on Botswana’s progress in promoting human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. “79 per cent of the national population has water on their premises, with a significant gap between the urban population (93 per cent) and the rural population (47 per cent).

Regarding sanitation services, 77 per cent has access to “latrines and others” as their source of sanitation while five per cent has access to septic tanks, and only one per cent to sewer connections,” Heller said at a UN General Assembly briefing. His report further noted that 11 per cent of the national population still practiced open defecation in urban areas, with this increasing to 33 per cent in rural areas. The above figures were 22 per cent and 42 per cent respectively in 2000.

The Special Rapporteur recommended to the Government to protect the human rights of people living in vulnerable areas by continuing to implement and strengthen measures to safeguard easily access to water. Heller undertook an official visit to Botswana upon the invitation of the Government from 9 to 17 November 2015 before making the latest research on Botswana’s progress in the provision of water and sanitation services. 

“The Special Rapporteur notes that the Government implemented several short-term measures to safeguard access to water and sanitation for the population in vulnerable situations,” he said in his latest update.  He went on to recommend to the Government to improve efforts in strengthening these safeguards and long-term measures including special tariffs and subsidies, in order to protect the vulnerable groups’ rights to water and sanitation.

Heller further raised concerns regarding limited access to water among poor communities, minority groups, especially the San community in the Kalahari Desert, women and the girl child. “Water and sanitation services must be accessible to everyone, on the premises of households, health and educational institutions, public institutions and places, and workplaces.

“The human right to safe drinking water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use, and the human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity, and both rights are components of the right to an adequate standard of living,” Heller’s report reads.

He said the tariff system that charged the same rate to households and businesses, did not take account of households with low incomes, who were sometimes disconnected from water supplies for not paying their bills. The Special Rapporteur added these disconnections affected individuals in vulnerable situations, leaving their enjoyment of the rights to water and sanitation at greater risk.   He then recommended the Government to set up systems to ensure the poor are protected from such harmful outcomes.

“Whilst the Special Rapporteur is pleased that Botswana has developed policies which consider the water and sanitation needs of those living in remote communities, he is concerned to learn that remote-area dweller settlements only become entitled to assistance, including being provided with water supplies, when the population is more than 250 persons, meaning that settlements with populations under this number may not have their water and sanitation needs met,” he said.

On the San community, Heller noted that the situation of water and sanitation for these communities remained precarious as their needs were often not accounted for by the Government.  “For instance, even where some San community villages surpassed the 250- person requirement that should entitle them to be provided with basic services, no water connections had been made available, partly because community members chose to remain outside of formal state structures in order to retain their traditional lifestyle and systems. Equally, many traditionally nomadic communities who are living on, or have returned to, reserve land have not been assisted with access to water and sanitation.”

However, the Government responded to the Special Rapporteur’s concerns saying it continued to engage in “dialogue with communities who are transitioning from a nomadic to sedentary life” in order to find “sustainable solutions to their access to water and sanitation.” Heller was also concerned over the lack of information regarding the improvement of menstrual hygiene facilities in health centres before reminding the Government that provision of these facilities in hospitals and clinics was equally important.

“Access to safe water should be available in all schools in Botswana, rather than most. The Government has provided no information about access to sanitation in schools, and on access to both water and sanitation in healthcare facilities,” he said.  Heller further recommended that the Government must ensure that all schools are provided with appropriate menstrual management facilities and that students and staff have access to adequate sanitation at all times.

“Additionally, he calls on the Government to publicly disclose data regarding its efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and menstrual hygiene facilities in healthcare institutions, recalling that provision of these therein is vital for the achievement of the rights to water and sanitation, as well as other human rights.

“Access to information, accountability and access to justice are central for the progressive realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation and all the other rights, and are mutually reinforcing. The right to information includes the right to receive information to make informed decisions regarding the human rights to water and sanitation,” noted Heller.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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