Wednesday, May 22, 2024

World Bank’s poverty report may not be good news for Botswana

The latest World Bank report on poverty may not be good news for BotswanaÔÇöthe diamond rich country which has made fighting the scourge one of its major priorities since President Ian Khama took over. The report, Poverty in a Rising Africa, states that ending poverty is also complicated by the structural characteristics of the most impoverished nations, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa.


It is noted that taking into account their demographic dynamics, by 2030 a larger share of the world’s impoverished will reside in natural resourceÔÇôbased economies among others, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Botswana is one of the frontier economies in the region alongside Democratic Republic of the Congo, C├┤te d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


“Poverty is less responsive to growth in such economies because the availability of jobsÔÇö the main channel through which growth uplifts the poorÔÇöis limited,” observed the study.


“Capital-intensive, natural-resource sectors may generate growth but are likely to have weak backward and forward links with the rest of the economy, even during commodity boom periods,” added the report. 


The World Bank noted that the continued poverty reduction will require incorporating natural resources and natural capital in economic decision-making. Botswana is endowed with natural resources and has made billions of Pula through diamond sales, but has been criticised for having inequalities where the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer.


President Ian Khama has in his Inaugural Address of 2009, identified Poverty Eradication and Economic Diversification Drive as the Government Flagship Programmes. Some of the programmes that were introduced include Ipelegeng, which government argues is dissimilar to Drought Relief Programme. The programme was developed to create basic employment to Batswana and it is distinct from Namolo Leuba in that Namolo Leuba was focused on development projects.


Over 40, 000 people have benefited from the programme which pays below minimum wage.   The other scheme is ISPAAD, which was developed to aid in contributing to the country’s food security whilst at the same time aiding Batswana to have sustainable livelihoods and government said most Batswana in rural communities complained about not having anything to do, yet they had farmland lying idle. LIMID is the other programme that is aimed at assisting Batswana.


The World Bank also observed that climate change may become another important drag on poverty reduction in many countries. This is pertinent to Botswana which has seen the impact of shortage of water affecting such programmes as backyard gardens as lack of water means families cannot water their plants.


“One reason is that the poor have lower access to resources and savings to absorb the impact of shocks, whether they come from climate change or political, economic, or financial instability.


“Climate change may have a greater impact on the poor relative to other types of shocks because the poor tend to be more dependent on agriculture and have more perilous access to water,” it said.


The report revealed that Africa’s rate of extreme poverty fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. But because of population increases, an estimated 63 million more people live in extreme poverty in Africa today than in 1990.


Read this week's paper