Only six years into the deadline set by the international community for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), compelling evidence validated by credible reports have revealed that Botswana’s Vision 2016 and National Development Plan (NDP) 10 are not wired to any calculated strategy to eradicate absolute poverty in the country.
┬áMoreover, indicators obtained by comparing the current rate of growth with the rate necessary to attain the MDGs by 2015 as set by the United Nations does not offer any glimmer of hope for those living on handouts.
┬á“The level of poverty, with about a third of the population living below the poverty datum line and unemployment rate of nearly 20% contradict Botswana’s status as a middle income country (MIC),“ the African Development Bank (AfDB) stated in its 2009-2013 Country Strategy Paper(CSP) for Botswana.
┬áIt was also pointed out that the continued escalation of disparities in income (Gini coefficient of 0.61) could adversely affect the country’s long-term development prospects.
┬áThis followed an AfDB business opportunities seminar held at Fairgrounds Holdings in Gaborone on the 13th October 2009, at the behest of the Government of Botswana and the Bank for the express purpose of receiving the CSP for Botswana covering the period 2009-2013.
┬áThe CSP assessed Botswana’s development prospects and challenges as well as Government strategic plans and priorities and role that the Bank could play to help in the realization of the country’s development goals.
┬áBased on the outcome of broad based consultations with Government and various other stakeholders during a mission that visited the country early April this year, the Bank was able to punch what it found to be gaps requiring attention by the powers that be.
┬áCentral to this was the observation that Government’s National Strategy for Poverty Reduction (NSPR) which was introduced in April 2003 for an indefinite period, as the driving force behind Government’s poverty eradication efforts, remained misplaced, until deliberately incorporated in the mainstream policies like Vision 2016 and NDP 10.
┬áTo confirm this, the 2009 African Economic Outlook report indicates that Botswana has been rated as “ off track” in relation to both MDG 1 and MDG 4 eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and for failing to deliver on reducing the rate of death of children under the age of five, respectively.
┬áThe United Nations target provided that countries reduce by half population between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people living under 1USD a day, universally calculated as the poverty datum line.
┬áBy the same token, member states were to bring down by 2/3 the mortality rate of children less than 5 years.┬á
It has been revealed by the report that Botswana scored zero on goals 2, 5 & 6 respectively.┬á
The stated target under these goals, including ensuring that all children can complete primary school and reducing the mortality rate of pregnant mothers as a result of lack of proper medical care at labour or other factors. The target also entailed combating HIV and AIDS and preventing new infections by 2015.
┬áFor all the three goals the table marking ‘Main Progress towards achieving MDGs” has allocated “regressing” which reflected degenerative trend in efforts directed at specified focal areas.
┬áTo make matters worse, in terms of HIV/AIDS prevalence Botswana’s rate at 24% is said to be second only to Swaziland which tops the list as the worst hit in the world. Thus out of all the seven MDGs only MDG 3 which pertains to promotion of gender equality and Women empowerment and the seventh goal dealing with ensuring environment sustainability the country managed to “secure early achiever” scores.┬á
So at two points out of seven, Botswana was at par with Africa’s remaining official monarch, Swaziland, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, whilst lagging behind Lesotho and Rwanda.┬á
Notwithstanding the “early achiever” mark given to Botswana for gender promotion and empowerment of women, an unnamed official of the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations dismissed the achievement at a conference of the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) recently.
┬áShe said, “Winning in one of these goals and failing in the rest should not give any government the slightest comfort because of their interconnectedness.”
┬áThe fact that women and in particular girl children carry the most burden on family matters ranging from single parenthood to care giving, renders them vulnerable in relation to diseases in general, especially HIV and AIDS.
┬áMoreover, the latest research has shown that majority of poor people are women. This was given further credence by a report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the eve of the International Women’s Days, that women would be hard hit by the recession.