Livingstone Kentshitswe, the coordinator of Tlhare Segolo Foundation (TSF), a non Governmental Organization based in Maun, has raised concern over the escalation of poverty in Ngamiland District, saying that despite the fact that the District is a rich tourism centre, its people continue to live in abject poverty.
Speaking in Francistown during the Birdlife Knowledge Fair last week, Kentshitswe said that Ngamiland remains the second poorest district in the country, with a poverty head count ratio of about 40 percent and a contribution to the country’s poverty of 16 percent.
“It is seriously disturbing to note that people in Ngamiland continue to be among the poorest in the country although the district is rich in tourism. Challenges such as the disruption of the Ngamiland beef industry by the Foot and Mouth Disease and high unemployment rate, especially among the youth, have even worsened the situation,” Kentshitswe said.
He added that the youth, who constitute 80 percent of Ngamiland’s population according to the 2005/06 Labour Force Survey Report, account for 58 percent of the unemployed population in Botswana.
Kentshitswe revealed that one of the worst nightmares bedevilling the district is the high disease burden due to the prevalence of HIV/Aids, which has now made the district to be officially the second hardest hit district in the country as the HIV/ Aids prevalence rate stands at 22 percent.
“Low level of literacy among local people also contributes immensely to escalation of poverty in the area,” he added.
Kentshitswe also raised fears over the problem of litter in Maun, saying that the situation poses health hazard to the environment and people. He said that the issue of stray domestic animals and livestock in the area exacerbate an already serious problem of littering, adding that the new Maun landfill already receives, on average, 7,580,696 kg per year of solid waste, pointing out that if waste is not properly managed, the lifespan of this landfill will be cut short.
However, on a positive note, Kentshitswe revealed that the situation of litter in Maun prompted their organization, Tlhare Segolo Foundation, to seek support through funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grant Programme. He said that the organization has already supported them by sponsoring their trip to South Africa where they went to benchmark on waste management.
“As I speak, we have already completed a proposal to build a waste management facility where waste will be collected, sorted out, compacted and recycled. We are currently waiting for land allocation from Tawana Land Board,” he said.