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Parliament abolishes Young Farmers fund

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is set to abolish the young farmers fund and replace it with a refurbished youth entrepreneurship fund.

Eight years on, the government has moved to pass a motion in parliament that called for the young farmers fund to be replaced, “to carter for other young people with other business ideas other than agriculture”. The motion was passed on Friday by Member of Parliament (MP) for Kgalagadi North, Itumeleng Moipisi.

 However Members of Opposition in Parliament are against the move as they believe it would defeat the purpose of the fund which the BDP created ahead of the 2009 general elections as a tool to empower the country’s youth, which were at the time disadvantaged by existing funds requirements.

The BDP however, has used its numbers advantage to pass the motion.  Several BDP MPs including cabinet Ministers are of the view that the new fund, which is yet to be introduced, would broaden the scope of the existing fund. In fact the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane believes that the idea is progressive.

“I think he has the plight of youth at heart. When the young farmers fund was formed, we were encouraging the youth into farming as you know our youth shun farming. Those who developed interest ventured into the farming industry and some joined in as a last resort and have failed because they did not like it,” Tsogwane debated.

Opposition Members nonetheless maintained that the Young Farmers fund was good initiative and has encouraged young people to venture into farming and food production. The opposition expressed fear that the ruling party was only trying to play a political mind game by reintroducing existing programmes under a new package.

The government has several youth support funds for different business ventures under the Ministries of Youth, Sports and Culture. The grants include Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), Youth Development Fund, art and culture grants, Kickstart Programme, and the E-nnovation youth empowerment programme which aims to encourage the out of school, marginalised and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income generating projects.

Of all the youth programmes, young farmers has the highest finance support as a project could be funded with up to P500 000 while CEDA loans go beyond P2 Million.

Opposition MP, Haskins NKaigwa of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) maintained that the reason young people are failing to access other existing funds such as main line CEDA loans is due to accessibility challenges.

“You need a tool to get the funds. You need a business plan and a business plan has to be done by a consultant who in turn needs to be paid. CEDA would not just issue money because somebody needs it. It has to be convinced that the planned business is viable,” Nkaigwa maintained.

Another opposition MP, Ndaba Gaolatlhe of the UDC argued that funding is just one aspect of the eco system which the country needs to develop in order to achieve needed results in as far as youth and citizen empowerment is concerned.

According to Gaolathe the government should consider establishing appropriate well targeted and diversified support mechanisms through smart subsidies, incentives for the growth of agro-industry sector, research and development, training and capacities. Other areas of worth, Ndaba explained would be opening of market access opportunities, local and international access to potential partnerships.

Poverty, poor health, hunger and lack of education continue to limit the potential of the youth in increasing productivity and agricultural incomes in the country and the rest of the Southern Africa region.

According to the Economic Commission of Africa, forty percent of the total unemployed in the region are youth and majority of them live in rural areas. For those that are employed, low productivity, underemployment and meagre earnings characterise their agricultural profile.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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