Thursday, August 18, 2022

Botswana lacks data on children welfare

In the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country programme document (CPD) for Botswana, to be presented in the second regular session of 7-10 September 2021, disturbing facts on children’s welfare were noted in the document’s rationale.

It has become banal at this point that Botswana’s data on children health is not only outdated, but also hinders estimates of the country’s development.

Economists such as Sennye Obuseng of SPECK Dynamics, and former minister Bogolo Kenewendo have pointed out the same paucity in their analysis of the national budget on child inclusivity.

According to the UNICEF country programme, “monitoring of progress towards the country’s development goals as well as the Sustainable Development Goals is hampered by limited quality data in the social sectors. The data gaps result from backlogs in publishing administrative data and infrequent national surveys that include child-focused indicators.”

The document further stated that limited disaggregation relating to age, sex, residence, wealth and data on children with disabilities is compounded by structural barriers, including limited capacity to analyse data.

Botswana ranks eleventh in terms of the most unequal countries in the world. UNICEF is aware that districts in the western part of the country, including Ngamiland, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi and Kweneng-West sub-district, are the most impoverished and deprived of services.

“Around one in two children experience multidimensional poverty, with rates as high as 68 per cent in rural areas, compared to 27 per cent in cities,” the document read. The most deprived children are those residing in remote rural areas, in lower-income households, woman-headed households and households with a member who is HIV-positive.

Research also indicates that children aged 0 to 9 years suffer from deprivations related to their right to survive and thrive in the early years, which is indicated by stagnating mortality rates and relatively high malnutrition rates. Children’s access to integrated early childhood development and education services is limited and learning outcomes at primary level remain a challenge.

Despite achieving near universal access to primary health services and 95 per cent coverage of skilled birth attendance, progress has been slow in reducing neonatal, infant, under-five and maternal mortality over the past three decades.

“The net enrolment rate in secondary education (for children aged 13–17 years) is 71 per cent. The transition rate from junior secondary to senior secondary school is 67 per cent, and about half of primary school entrants complete secondary education,” the document read. SB 2015,2019 Education briefs, show that school dropout rates at secondary level are significantly higher in the remote western regions, and for children from poor households, girls in general, and pregnant adolescent girls.

The draft CPD for Botswana has been presented to the UNICEF Executive Board for discussion and comment. The draft CPD includes a proposed aggregate indicative budget of $4,300,000 from regular resources, subject to the availability of funds, and $5,750,000 in other resources, subject to the availability of specific-purpose contributions, for the period 2022 to 2026.

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