The European Union has availed over 4 million pula to Botswana Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and deserving impactful non state actors. The funding is availed under the Empowerment of Non State Actors Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.
Speaking at the unveiling of the grants, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Edwin Batshu, explained that the organizations to benefit from the funding will be those screened against a transparent and fair process. The aim is to select NGOs with clear proposals to best benefit their targeted groups.
“Only the NGOs with projects proposals that ensure more impact on the lives for their clients will receive a share from the grant,” he said. According to Batshu who is also the Member of Parliament for Nkange, the NGO Council in Botswana has developed a strategic framework for the Civil Societies Fund in which it intends to mobilize financial resources, provide funding to CSO’s and promote activities designed to facilitate the engagement of civil based organizations and NGO as partners with government on national development programs.
“I am happy that this funding comes at a time when the national NGO council is succeeding in developing strategic framework to engage the government and non state actors towards working on national impactful projects,” he said. A total of 9 beneficiaries is said to have already received grants, amongst them is Khama Rhino Sanctuary, which has been awarded P450 000 towards their community Fire Management Program.
The sanctuary is run by a trust of villages around the tourist attractive rhino home and reportedly is working with five villages being Serowe, Mabeleapodi, Paje, Mmashoro and Tshimoyapula on the program. According to administration at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, their proposal impressed the European Union because it intends to empower village communities with sustainable fire management skills.
Thapelo Baiphethi told WeekendPost that veldt fires continue to be a national threat specifically in tourist attraction areas. “Fire is a national threat and because of lack of funds, it is difficult for government to assist small villages like Mabeleapodi. Through this program we are trying to meet government halfway,” said Baiphethi.
According to Baiphethi, Khama Rhino Sanctuary with its veldt fire fighting experience has trained over 160 people, 30 from government departments from respective villages and 130 ordinary villagers selected by Dikgosi. He added that now with funding available they will expand the number of trainees.
“We train VDC members so that they can go and manage Fire Management Teams established in their villages,” he explained. Baiphethi said the training was done so that in the event of a veldt fire, as they were popular during winter season, there would be trained people who could manage it before it destroys life, the environment and property.
With the monetary assistance from the European Union the sanctuary will train 80 fire fighters, who will go through an eight-month long course, divided into theoretical and practical training. The Botswana Empowerment of Non State Actors Program is a partnership between the Government of Botswana and the European Union, co-funded by the European Development Fund, the program provides funding support to civil society organizations in Botswana. With the aim of empowering Non State Actors (NSAs) in the development process of Botswana, enabling them to contribute more effectively to the achievement of the national development goal.
The program avails funding for projects in Education, with particular attention to Early Childhood Care and Inclusive Education, Social Services in particular targeting Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Environment, Gender (women's empowerment) and Arts and Culture (cultural industries/ maintaining cultural identity).
The grants are expected to enhance the capacities of NGOs to effectively implement programs and advocacy initiatives in the priority sectors, and Support the strengthening of cooperation, coordination and networking among NGOs, leading to an effective participation in development planning and policy dialogue. It is reported that 9 Non Governmental Organizations have so far benefited from the 2017 Grant.
A representative from the European Union, Alexandra Bom, observed that in Europe, non state actors and impactful NGOs have a funding from the national coffers, noting that unlike here in Botswana, that makes it easier for genuine NGOs to carry out their mandates as there are also public donations for them easily available.
“Here in Botswana we have to continue finding methods to solicit funding for these organizations as they play a pivotal role in implementing national projects,” he said. However according to Bom’s observation some NGOs do not have a clear mandate and outlined plan to carry out their course, something which he noted makes it difficult for them to receive funding from any independent sponsor.
Bom therefore urged that registered NGOs should be trained and orientated to be able to run their dealings effectively. “The NGOs have to be capacitated and empowered with skills to carry out their intended objectives before being allocated any funding especially from state aligned coffers,” he said.
Members of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent parties especially from Botswana Congress Party (BCP), have called on the leadership to hasten the “Democratisation of UDC” by adopting reforms and the new constitution.
A number of BCP MPs have expressed their displeasure with the transitional constitution and therefore want the NEC to put pedal to the metal and accelerate implementation of a democratic constitution which was agreed by congress in 2018.