Monday, August 15, 2022

Poverty alleviation projects under scrutiny

The Letlhakeng sub-district Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) poverty alleviation project started in 2010 failed due logistical problems, poor monitoring and beneficiaries’ lack of commitment, says Animal Scientist, Tswaragano Kopano.

According to Kopano, an evaluation conducted to ascertain the viability of the resourceÔÇôpoor LIMID projects at Letlhakeng, Salajwe and Khudumelapye as poverty eradication initiatives, blamed inadequate funds as incremental to low productivity margins.

Kopano said in Gaborone last week that the shortage of extension staff support to the beneficiaries was a major hindrance to the successful implementation and monitoring of the project.

Explaining the findings from Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) research project, Kopano stated: “Only 36 percent of the beneficiaries received farmer training prior to the beginning of the LIMID projects from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) whilst 64 percent depended on the meager skills for project survival. From 2010, training on livestock management became a pre-requisite to resource-poor projects, while MoA extension staff performed monitoring and mentoring.”

Shortages in the procurement of livestock were due to escalating prices. For instance, the remote area dwellers programme (RADP) and LIMID provided way back (in 2009) 15 small stock or 5 cattle; and 30 goats or 25 chickens, respectively. LIMID was bedeviled with resource-poor and infrastructure development inbuilt packages as a result of a recent merger between Services to Livestock Owners in Communal Areas (SLOCA) and Livestock Water Development Programme. Despite the shortcomings, the ultimate goal was to introduce a food security production, livestock improvement and poverty alleviation components for resource-poor Batswana.

“Under the LIMID dispensation, Batswana 18 years and above, received a maximum of 30 goats worth P12 000 and 25 Tswana chickens valued at P10┬á000,” Kopano said. “This assistance was in the form of a grant ranging from 90 percent to 100 percent, depending on applicants; resource worthiness. There was, however, limited information on the poverty alleviation potential of the projects in the sub-district under review.

“Female dominated the projects at 91 percent with the majority age-groups ranging from 30 to 39, rendering youth participation low. Most of the beneficiaries appreciated the skills they learnt from extension officers, given the two-thirds literacy rates. Unfortunately, the 14.5 percent and 19.9 percent population increases, in goats and sheep, respectively, did not offset the significant declines in small stock.”

The major causes of reductions in the small stock populations could be attributed to disease (66 percent), sales (26.7 percent), predation (33.93 percent), parasites (12.5 percent) and feed starvation (5.4 percent). While veldt fires, theft, accidents, drought, poisoning, snake bits, battering and slaughter for consumption subsistence accounted for less than 5 percent. As a result, 41.07 percent of the projects were operating from zero% to not more than 25 percent of the original stock (OS). Out of about 89 percent of the projects operating at less than 100 percent OS capacity, 14.29 percent collapsed. The significant decline in all guinea fowl populations in the projects has resulted in their collapse and gradual phasing out from LIMID.

Kopano added that about 71 percent of the applicants failed to get all approved requisites for their projects including livestock: only 19 percent vaccinated their animals against economically devastating diseases while 12.5 percent provided supplementary feeding.

Despite the discouraging results, 63.5 percent of the participants benefitted in one way or the other from the projects. At least 98 percent noted LIMID as a sustainable poverty eradication initiative justifying 2010 project assessments. About 86 percent were in favour of LIMID as an ongoing concern which improved livelihoods however, some project participants would like cattle to replace Tswana chickens packages, due to their fragile nature.

Kopano notes that although agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) declined from 40 percent at Independence to below 1.9 percent due to unfavourable weather and economic factors, it is still the major provider of livelihoods, especially in rural areas.

The MoA Vision 2016 LIMID forms part of Botswana’s poverty eradication guidelines alongside, the National Strategy on Poverty Reduction (NSPR), National Development Plan(s), (NDPs), Revised National Policy on Destitute Persons (RNPDP). Because poverty is a widespread malice throughout the country, Botswana in accordance to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of eradicating hunger and poverty, adopted a mulitsectoral approach of attaining the vision by 2016 with programmes and schemes such as Remote Area Dwellers (RADs), Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) and Destitute and Labour Intensive Public Works Programme (Ipelegeng) and Back-yard-Gardening.

The Central Statistical Office estimates the national poverty rates at 20.7 percent with the rural populations severely affected. The national unemployment rate of 17 percent is more pronounced among women at 21 percent as compared to 14 percent men.

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