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Civil service drives inequality in Botswana

Civil service

A new study by the United Nations Development Plan (UNDP) office in Botswana has revealed that employment in the public sector is driving inequality in Botswana, making it an unequal country in the world.  

UNDP commissioned the study to assist Botswana in understanding the drivers of inequality beyond income. The study also sought to help Botswana achieve its SDG 10 targets.
The report says that “It is perhaps not surprising that employment in the public sector is among the household characteristics that contribute the most to inequality,” adding that “It is also shown to contribute to higher expenditure.”

A descriptive analysis of wages “by employment sector reveals that the average last salary obtained by individuals in the public sectors BWP 8.754 in 2015/16, compared to BWP 3674 for private-sector employees,” the report says.

The report says that Botswana faces challenges that limit this achievement despite the former development plan, Vision 2016, which envisioned a high-quality education system able to meet the information age and transition the country into the current era and the high level of spending on this item.

The analysis also shows that certain ethnic groups dominate employment in public administration (i.e., Mosubia, Shekgalagadi, and Tswana). The role of tertiary education as a significant contributor to inequality is also clear from the findings presented in this report. Individuals with university-level education, primarily English-speaking and non-nationals (34% of non-nationals have a university degree, compared to 18% of non-nationals), show much higher consumption expenditure levels.

According to the UNDP analysis, Sesarwa and Seyeyi also show the highest level of unemployment among household heads (45% and 405 percent respectively) together with the Sembukushu language. The analysis shows that the dominant language, Setswana, presents a share of unemployed household heads of 31%.

“Our analysis also shows that the Sesubiya (Mosubiya ethnic group) language has the highest percentage of heads employed in the public administration, (21%) followed by the Shekgalagadi, (16%) and Setswana (14%) languages. The researchers said these findings could safely conclude that differences exist in educational attainment and labour force participation depending on the language spoken (and, most probably, ethnicity).

‘The most penalized groups appear to be those that speak Sesarwa (residing mostly in the Ghanzi) and Seyeyi (residing mostly in Ngamiland). The region these groups reside in is the poorest and most rural of the country, which could explain the high level of unemployment of ethnicities leaving (sic) within their borders,” the report says.

In the study, researchers analyzed inequality in Botswana at a national and subnational level, disaggregated its components, and tried to identify its causes and drivers. The report says inequality remains alarmingly high to the extent that Botswana is one of the most unequal countries globally (ranking 8th in the world, according to the most recent figures).

The report shows that the costs of sending children to school, both direct and indirect, are consumption) for rural and less affluent households, and become prohibitive the higher the level of education. Key informants reported that current grant programs for less wealthy students are not functioning correctly and leave many without the possibility of receiving a proper education.

“Different inequalities overlap and intersect with different groups leading to the most severe forms of exclusion. We investigated disparities between groups defined according to nationality, ethnicity, gender, and disability. Interestingly, we observed substantial differences among non-nationals between high-paid foreigners and low-skilled migrants, who are among the most vulnerable,” the report says.

The report says more populated and urbanized districts, as South East, Kgatleng, and Central, display the highest level of inequality. The South-East district – home to the capital Gaborone – hosts approximately 10% of the total population, the country’s financial centre, and most top-performing businesses. On the other hand, the Central district hosts essential diamond mines, including the Orapa mine. Districts where the soil is less fertile and where the population (and urban centres) are sparse, like Ghanzi, show lower levels of consumption expenditures as well as lower inequality, the report says.

An examination of the contribution of each district to overall inequality shows that wealthier districts with high consumption inequality, such as South East and Central, contribute the most to imbalance at a national level. Findings confirm that these districts’ contribution to inequality has increased over time, indicating that inequality is widening in the districts with the highest consumption inequality.

The report says disaggregation by economic sector shows that between 2009/10 and 2015/16, the importance of mining to the economy has waned, ceding its position to the hospitality and trade sectors and FIRE sector.

“More recent figures also confirm these trends on value-added by each sector. Data from 2019/20 indicate that the trade and hospitality sector is now the largest economy, contributing approximately 20% of added value, with mining relegated to fourth place. The last two decades have witnessed the tertiarization of the economy of many developing countries,” the report says.
However, the report says the services, trade, and financial sectors are characterized by high-income inequality, explaining the recent increase in inequality.

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Mental health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic 

24th September 2021
Mental Health

With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is   significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.

In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).

The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.

It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.

The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).

The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.

The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum  in  Ghanzi, was  from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.

The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.

The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.

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GMES & Africa Southern Africa to hold a Regional Stakeholder Workshop on Earth Observation Technologies

24th September 2021

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.

It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.

In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCO[1]South). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.

CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.

The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.

The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.

This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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