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Botswana faces worst drought ever in 42 years – SADC Report

The government of Botswana has been warned to prepare for difficult decisions as the country grapples with its worst drought in over 40 years.

The warning is contained in the latest edition of Southern African Development community (SADC)’s Food Security Early Warning System Agromet Update.

The report says seasonal cumulative rainfall in Botswana and other member states has been below average during the 2022/23 rainy season.

It says the current rainfall season has been one of the driest since 1981 in northern Botswana and other member states in the region.

“Poor crop performance is expected due to dry conditions in central and south-western parts of the region, with severe crop water deficits expected to reduce yields,” the report says.

It says poor vegetation conditions in western parts of the SADC region are impacting availability of grazing for livestock, particularly in western Botswana.

In, northern Botswana, the 2022/23 season has been one of the driest since 1981. In contrast, eastern and southern parts of the region, including the south-eastern half of South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, southern and central Mozambique, southern Malawi, and western Madagascar received above normal rainfall.

The report says most parts of Botswana, experienced severe crop water deficits, which will likely reduce cereal crop yields.

“The dry spells in January and late February through mid-March (Figure 2c), and the associated high temperatures, were largely responsible for the moisture stress that crops experienced,” the report says.

It says livestock and pastures vegetation conditions, as inferred from the satellite derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) are currently below normal in western parts of the region due to the low rainfall that has been received there to date. The report says most affected areas include northern and western Botswana, which are currently showing well below average NDVI.

In conclusion, the report says the rainfall season ends around April in many parts of the SADC region, and summer crops are typically harvested between April and July.

The report recommended that as the season concludes, it is crucial for key stakeholders, including farmers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, and energy utilities, to work collaboratively in addressing the challenges posed by the variable rainfall patterns and their impact on agriculture, livestock, and food security.

“By implementing contingency plans, enhancing early warning systems, conducting ongoing assessments, and exploring alternative energy sources, the region can better adapt to the climate variability and ensure a more resilient and secure food system for its population in the coming months,” the report says.

In the short term, Botswana and other SADC members states were encouraged to conduct and expedite thorough and ongoing assessments of the impacts of rainfall variability, floods, and dry spells on agriculture, livestock, and food security in the region.

“These assessments can guide interventions and support measures to mitigate the negative impacts of weather events on livelihoods and food security,” the report says.

Depending on the outcomes of the assessments, emergency support programs for affected farmers will likely be required, it says. The report says this may include the distribution of drought-resistant seeds for the next planting season, provision of agricultural inputs, and the facilitation of access to credit and crop insurance.

“Additionally, immediate assistance may be required for farmers who experienced crop loss due to drought or flooding to help them prepare for the next planting season and ensure food security,” says the report.

It says farmers and agricultural cooperatives are also encouraged to prioritize post-harvest activities to minimize losses due to the prevailing weather conditions, such as timely harvesting, proper drying, and storage of crops.

“There is need to explore and adopt drought-tolerant crop varieties and water-efficient irrigation systems for the next planting season, and collaborate with local agricultural agencies and NGOs to access support and resources,” the report says.


Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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