By Mosidi Mokaeya
Botswana is failing on one of the indicators put in place to assess public awareness and the extent to which the public is aware of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the SDGs Road Map for 2017 to 2023 shared by Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED) with journalists at the end of 2018 in Gaborone, every person on earth regardless of origin needs to be aware of the fact that SDGs exit.
The document was shared during a training session for media organised by the ministry. According to the roadmap, it is also important that everyone understands what SDGs are and to what extent each goal affects them.
The ministry further shared that locals are virtually clueless about SDGs let alone their existence and it is pinning its hopes on journalists to carry the baton on.
In September 2015, Botswana was among the 193 United Nations (UN) member states that adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The framework entails 17 SDGs which are universal, people centred and quite transformative. The SDGs pretty much build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that ran from 2000 to 2015, and seek to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice as well as tackle climate change by 2030.
The education is just not reaching enough of the population as prescribed in the road map. There are some local communities who understand very little Setswana let alone English.
Advocacy, awareness raising and sensitisation of communities on SDGs have indeed been identified by MFED as key areas of focus if Botswana is to achieve the ambitious SDGs. Yet the information shared continues to be understood by a small part of society who understand English and are curious enough. This part of society is however not the poverty stricken one. Although the SDGs are anchored on leaving no one behind, the language used to communicate to locals about them is extremely exclusive.
The marginalised communities are mostly in the rural areas and there might be some visible countrywide campaigns but the language used is exclusive.
The song of climate change awareness has of late been a hit while locals continue with tendencies that hurt the environment.
If the SDGs spoke anything to locals it would translate into better habits. In places where they like to go and relax especially where there are natural resources like dams, lakes and other beautiful natural places of relaxation, they litter a lot.
Mogobane Dam and Dipopolere are typical examples of places that attract a lot of traffic and they are equally growing filthy by the day. People enjoy beer and food at the scenic and trendy natural wonders and litter the place. Unfortunately it is the environment that gets hurt by the litter they throw in the water or in the bush.
A local journalist recently vented out on social media about how Maun gets hit by so much litter during the festive season. The pictures he posted were disturbing. This could be evidence that it happens across the country in places where people relax for picnics and so on especially those places with minimum restriction of entry.
If this generation carries on this way, future generations will not be able to enjoy Mogobane or Maun and many other amazing places the country has to offer.
The current generation is carelessly hurting the environment with litter. It is very clear that in this day and age there are people in Botswana who know nothing about climate action although it is spoken of regularly.
They carry on harming the environment maybe completely oblivious of the repercussions. Or maybe they simply do not understand that they are part of a global community that is working towards a common goal to be realised by 2030.
Many more women are now educated and a significant number of them head big organisations. A few more have trickled into parliament, although it is a hot issue that there are simply not enough women in the National Assembly.
A lot more young girls are remaining in school and getting amazing grades. However, it has so far been extremely difficult for the country to empower all women and girls to the same level as their male counterparts.
Rape statistics in the country are getting scary by the day. Between 21st December 2018 and 3rd January 2019, a shocking Press Release from Botswana Police Service informed the public that as many as 109 cases of rape were reported. Although the private sector has ensured that 50 per cent of Chief Executive Officers are women, socially local women are increasingly reporting rape. Botswana has become a haven for child molesters too.
It is taking too long for government to implement the Children’s Act of 2009, a perfect instrument to protect children. SDG 5 demands member states to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres. The BPS press lease stated that the 109 reported rape cases occurred mostly at places of entertainment.
SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth should speak the hearts of locals too as the country is currently facing the worst youth unemployment rate in its entire history.
By next year Botswana is expected to have substantially reduced the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.
Whether the country has done well or not will be judged by the proportion of youth aged 15 to 24 years not in any of the above. By next year Botswana is expected to have developed and operationalised a global strategy for youth employment.
The country is also expected to have within the same time frame, implemented the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.
In other words a separate national employment strategy for youth that actually functions is needed. If the nation knew and understood all the language about SDGs on this one, there would be a lot more demand for accountability by the public to the government of the day.