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Weaving helps fight poverty in Ngamiland

Women in Botswana continue to fall victims of extreme poverty. This means that women do not have enough food and significant resources to beat hunger. Most of these women are single handedly heading families. Some of them do not have sustainable jobs to feed their children.

Quite a blue reality, Botswana is not the only country in the world experiencing this disturbing trend. Hunger has killed women and children in Africa, Asia and the Americas. South Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan are some of the world economies most affected by poverty. Technically, women and children die every day due to unavailability of food and water.

NGAMILAND BASKET WEAVERS TRUST

Nonetheless, women in Botswana are up on their feet, trying to make ends meet. This is in an effort to fight food scarcity. Putting on the spotlight women in Ngami, most of them are utilizing natural resources found in the region to improve their livelihoods.

Ngamiland Basket Weavers Trust was formed in 2002 to represent basket weavers in the district and is made up of fifty individuals of which forty eight are women and two are men. They are all from the Ngamiland region.

Trust Manager Katenga Dithatho, told this publication that the trust was funded by the African Development Fund (ADF). When explaining why the Trust was founded, she said this was due to the high unemployment rates amongst women.

We also realized that we had special creativity skills and we had nowhere to execute them. So this was a great platform for us to express ourselves. I must say this is what we needed.

She said the women at the trust have been able to improve their livelihoods through the programme, adding that they have been able to build better houses and fend for children. Some even managed to take children to school.

However she indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily jammed them as they were not able to sell their products. COVID-19 was not the only problem that the Trust was faced with. Over the years, it has been losing members to a number of reasons, including death and migration to urbanized areas for greener pastures.

She revealed that the government assist with funding them to go for workshops and submits where they get to interact with other women and network.

UNDP EMPOWERS WOMEN THROUGH FINANCIAL LITERACY

In an interview with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Communications Manager, Lebogang Tlhaloso, said that they have held an informal economy training on financial literacy and business management skills where they had fifty participants and 52% of them were women. It was held in July 2022 in Maun, the capital of Ngamiland.

He said the UNDP held an informal economy dialogues between the informal economy and different stakeholders; the council, forestry, cooperatives, Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) on gaps in service delivery to them and how planning and inclusion can inform integrated policies. He held that they had over 140 participants, being hawkers, street vendors, tourism (community trusts, arts and craft, poolers and the agriculture sector) and most were women.

NGAMI MP CATERPILLAR HIKUAMA SPEAKS

For his part, the Ngamiland Member of Parliament (MP), Caterpillar Hikuama, stressed that his Constituency is one of the leading poorest region in Botswana. He said there is not much that his office can do as there is high employment and schools perform lower.

He argued that due to the development plan of the country, the people living in the region are too dependent and that contributes to poverty. There is a need for a settlement policy to be implemented otherwise people will be dependent forever he said.

DEPARTMENT OF GENDER AFFAIRS STATISTICS

Meanwhile, according to Statistics Botswana, Ngamiland West region is by far the second poorest region in Botswana. In efforts to eradicate poverty, government has programmes that are aimed at eradicating poverty such as Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) programme, which is aimed at reducing poverty among women.

WEE is a programme that falls under Department of Gender Affairs, a unit that recently fell under the ministry of youth, gender, sports and culture, and was introduced in 1998 with the aim to give women grants to small businesses and was funded through the alcohol levy at P25.2 million annually.

A report titled Mapping of Programmes under Botswanas National Social Protection Framework of 2022 compiled by the Department of Social Protection, suggests that provision is made for men to benefit as members of womens groups provided they are in the minority.

The agenda is a cash transfer programme which pays out P100 thousand for individual women, P250K partnerships of two people, P300 hundred thousand for groups of more than two people and half a million (P500 000) for communities.

It says that successful applicants are required to open bank accounts then taken through prefunding training, to prepare them for grant implementation before the funds are transferred into their accounts.

According to the report, when the programme started in 1998, it had a total number of fifty beneficiaries with a budget of P 300 thousand while the last roll of funding that was in 2018/2019 had sixty two beneficiaries with a budget of over P55 million.

Furthermore, there are other private companies and organizations that fund women in efforts to help the government to eradicate poverty especially among women.

INFO GRAPHICS

YEAR BUDGET NO OF BENEFICIARIES
2014/15 25,200,000.00 131
2015/16 25,200,000.00 280
2016/17 55,200,000.00 773
2017/18 55,200,000.00 716
2018/19 55,200,000.00 63

TABLE 1: Budget and number of beneficiaries of WEE in the last 5 years.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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