In the past three years, Botswana has recorded an increase of about 2000 destitute, owing to a dependency on social welfare programmes.
Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mabuse Pule told Parliament that in the financial year 2018/2019 there were 37 934 destitute in the country. In 2020, the number rose to 39 142, slightly rising again during 2021 to 39 969.
“The highest numbers of destitute persons are accounted for at Central District, followed by Southern District Council, followed by Kweneng District Council,” said Pule.
It has also emerged that only a few have been able to rise from their indigence.
A total of 112 destitute persons graduated from destitution in the last three years. The assistant minister said the low graduation rate is evident across all districts for the years 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021. Jwaneng, Chobe, Kgatleng, Central, Gaborone, Kweneng and Lobatse did not have any graduation during this period.
The term Graduation is used in the context of beneficiaries who were rehabilitated and are able to sustain their livelihoods without Government assistance. Sustainable livelihoods include self-employment gained from assistance programmes provided by Government or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Explaining why the country has a low destitute graduation rate, Pule said that those registered as permanent destitute persons are rendered completely dependent on welfare assistance because of age, physical disability or mental incapacitation.
“Temporary destitute persons are the ones who can be rehabilitated because they will be temporarily incapacitated by natural disasters such as drought, ill health and any other emergency, which means if they are mitigated or recover from this, then they cease to be destitute,” the assistant minister said.
A total of 4086 new cases of destitution was registered for the period. The following districts experienced highest numbers of new registered cases; Southern District; 1131, Central District; 776 and finally Kweneng District; 536.
Maun West Member of Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, had posed the registered destitutes question to Pule, also Mochudi East MP.
“I would like to ask the Minister whether they are temporary destitute or permanent destitute, if only 112 graduates from destitution every year yet the number of destitute is rising where did the millions which was budgeted for to eradicate poverty go to?” Saleshando quizzed.
Those who graduated from poverty were less than one per cent of people who we have registered as destitute.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has established that Botswana ranks eleventh in terms of the most unequal countries in the world. 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 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.