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Poverty in Botswana deepens for women in rural areas

Just like many developing countries of the world, Botswana endeavors to see itself grow into a high income economy, and have her people live out of extreme poverty. Botswana is measuring its success through the Vision 2036 platform. This instrument seeks to achieve prosperity for all.

The Vision 2036 has pillar number two, Human and Social Development, and its objectives are spiritual well-being, culture, health and wellness, youth and children’s well-being.

Quite significant and relevant to this news feature are social inclusion and equality, gender equality and skills development. Botswana says social inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity as well as empowering the poor, and marginalized people, to take advantage of burgeoning opportunities.

The small landlocked country anticipates that by 2036, marginalized population groups will be empowered to positively contribute to the country‘s development.

It further stipulated that people living with disabilities and the elderly people will have equal access to services and socio-economic opportunities.

Social protection will continue to be provided to support the most vulnerable members of the society, according to Vision 2036.

These aspirations come at the backdrop of data available on poverty in Botswana. It is said that poverty is more pronounced in Female-Headed Households (FHHs) especially those residing in rural areas where employment opportunities are limited.

These rural areas include those in the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi region. They include villages in Kgalagadi North which are Hukuntsi, Hunhukwe, Inalegolo, Kang, Lehututu, Lokgwabe, Make, Monong, Ncaang, Ngwatle, Phuduhudu, Tshane, Ukwi, Zutswa.

In Kgalagadi South, the villages are Bogogobo, Bokspits, Bray, Gachibana, Khisa, Khuis, Khawa, Kokosha, Kolonkwane, Makopong, Maleshe, Maralaleng, Maubelo, Middlepits, Omaweneno, Phepheng, Rapples Pan, Struizendam, Tsabong, Vaalhoek and Werda.

Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2010 says the proportion of the FHHs to the total poor increased between 2002 and 2010.

Over the years, Botswana has maintained Africa’s top position in transparency and good governance indexes, and it is deemed a shining beacon of democracy on the continent.

Despite such progress and accolades, Botswana has a high income inequality with the Gini Index estimated at 0.645 in 2010, placing the country amongst the most unequal in terms of disposable income (Statistics Botswana, 2013).

According to the 2014 World Economic Forum Report, Botswana ranked 51 out of the 142 countries, placing it higher than South Africa and Namibia with regard to the Global Gender Gap Index (GGI).

Although overall income poverty has been on the decline, the total share of the poor has been dominated by women.

Female-Headed Households accounted for about 54% of the total poor in 2003 and the figure had increased to about 60% by 2010, this is according to report by Statistics Botswana in 2013.

Moreover, the total decline in household poverty was higher, 56%, for the Male-Headed Households (MHHs) compared to FHHs 45% in the same year. The high incidences of poverty amongst women could be an indication that poverty alleviation programs are not effective in targeting the most vulnerable.

Perhaps it is an indication of the failure in the system to redistribute resources and opportunities fairly and equitably. One of the key contributing factors is that women constitute the majority of the unemployed, both in rural and urban Botswana. Between 2009 and10, the female unemployment rate stood at 21%, compared to 14% for males (Statistics Botswana 2013).

Research Expert covering historical data, Aaron O’Neil says unemployment rate in Botswana increased to 23.30% in 2020 from 18.20% in 2019.

Ministry of Finance through the budget speech presented by Minister Peggy Serame said unemployment rose to 26% in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from 22.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic.

She said the implementation of the Poverty Eradication Programme has continued during the pandemic, albeit at much reduced levels. Since the start of the programme in 2012/13, a total of 40 641 projects had been funded up to the end of July 2021.

Of these, she said 29 635 are reported to be still operational, employing 34 716 people, either as direct beneficiaries or employed by the projects. Sixty percent of the projects are in agriculture, with the remainder spread across manufacturing, food services, and general services.

Unfortunately, many projects have been adversely impacted by reduced activity during the pandemic, which resulted in a number of failures and closures.

Over the ten years since the programme started, a total of P1.28 billion has been provided for establishing projects, capacity building and programme management.

In an exclusive interview with this public, Ghanzi South Member of Parliament (MP) Motsamai Motsamai said his Constituency is made up of many settlements, which are occupied by the Basarwa tribes. He said a lot needs to be done in order to fight poverty in the Kgalagadi region, emphasizing the sustainable and optimal use of natural resources to transform and uplift the livelihoods of people in the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi regions.

“We need to target people’s interest of survival and how these people have been surviving over the years. It is not appropriate to dictate to them on how to survive. If we can take HanaHana as a case study, there is ample Kgwengwe in the area and the fruit is good in the production of cosmetics. These people need to be supported with establishing factories in order for them to economically survive.”

He said protecting these natural resources and monetizing them can be done through creation of Trusts in the region.

“These Trusts will then ensure that they use the money to connect running water into their households. And what I envision is for these households in the Kgalagadi and Ghanzi regions not to pay for water bills and government should be in a position to incur such costs. After all, the Vision 2036 pillar, Sustainable Development, talks about Botswana having water security, so government should live the talk.”

Motsamai shunned government’s food basket programme, saying “It shouldn’t be the case all the time that when someone is lacking they should be given food.

“What government needs to do in helping female headed households, which are hard hit by poverty, is that most of them are enrolled for the Ipelegeng programme. There is a Women Affairs programme that encourages women to apply for drought-relief initiatives to empower themselves. You will find that these programmes are underfunded and they cannot improve someone’s livelihood anyhow. In unfortunate circumstances, some don’t even find the funds.”

The MP stressed that before dispersing initiatives, government needs to do due diligence and find out what best works for people in a certain region.

“Government needs to do thorough research accordingly tackling all the settlements, to find out what needs to be done to eradicate poverty. This policy of one size firsts all is not appropriate at all. Not only poverty, we know that Botswana is one of the countries of the world with people who are miserable and not happy. The most affected people are women, especially those who are singly heading families.”

INFOGRAPHICS

                      YEAR    UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
                      2021                       24.7%
                      2020                       24.9%
                      2019                       22.6%
                      2018                       22.0%
                      2017                       21.5%
                      2016                       21.0%
                      2015                       20.5%

 

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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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