Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dueling researchers present conflicting findings on Botswana poverty

Two research finding published this week presents two diametrically opposed images of Botswana: One depicts a country whose economic success has resulted in prosperity for citizens while another paints a picture of poverty despite the country’s impressive economic growth.

The two dueling research finding by two credible research institutions are expected to leave Batswana perplexed about who to believe.

A report by the UK based Public Policy Research Group ranks Botswana top of Africa on the latest Legatum Institute Prosperity Index, followed by South Africa, Morocco, and Tunisia.

The report, entitled Insight on Africa: Special Report, shows that economic growth, improving health standards and greater foreign and domestic investment, among other factors, are having a positive impact on prosperity on the continent ÔÇô and Botswana is having the best of it.

After investigating changing demographics, safety, and corruption in 38 African countries, as well as assessing Africa’s performance in the Millennium Development Goals, the Legatum Institute has ranked the countries based on their overall level of prosperity, with Botswana perched on top position.

National wealth and wellbeing were also among the eight sub-categories that were surveyed. Positive prospects on the continent include current generation of working-age adults with relatively few elderly persons and a falling birth rate, improved health standards as infant and childhood mortality drop, as well as sustained fight against HIV/Aids and malaria. In trade and investment, the report says raw commodities still make up most African exports, but adds that foreign direct investment is expanding.

Another research by Afrobarometer whose findings were also released this week states that poverty levels in Botswana have increased despite the country’s economic growth.

The Afrobarometer poverty survey’s Lived Poverty Index, LPI for 2012 showed that there were real increases in lived poverty in Botswana, despite the fact that the country reportedly enjoyed economic growth.

The report found that there had been an increase in what it called “lived poverty” in Botswana and as well as in South Africa over the past 10 years as shown by the level of access to food, clean water and cash, among other indicators,

Afrobarometer’s Lived Poverty Index (LPI) rates access to basic necessities such as water, food, medical care and cash on a scale of zero to four with zero being no poverty and four being the absence of all basic necessities or complete poverty.

Commenting on the increase in poverty levels in Botswana and South Africa, co-director of Afrobarometer, Robert Mattes, said “This may surprise people because these are two of the wealthiest countries on the continent.”

The increase in poverty in Botswana flies in the face of other research that shows a drop in poverty in the country.

In April this year, Assistant Finance Minister, Vincent Seretse, told Parliament that the number of Batswana living below the poverty datum line has declined from 30 percent to 20 percent or just over 373,000 people in 2010.

The minister however revealed that Botswana also does not use the UN poverty datum line of 1 dollar 25 cents a day. Instead, he said, it identifies a ration of commodities basket which differs from others in the region.

The researchers found that like in South Africa, the rise in poverty in Botswana, despite the government’s best efforts, could be attributed to high corruption levels and single political party dominance.

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Read this week's paper