Issues and challenges - Other MDGs
Poverty is still a significant challenge
About a third of the population lives below the national poverty line. Evidence from the 2002/03 HIES suggests poverty is also deep, inequality is high, and poverty responds sluggishly to growth. Unemployment, estimated at 26.2% of the labour force in 2008, up from 17.6% in 2005, is quite high, especially amongst the youth. Furthermore, a significant proportion of the population, 19%, depends on one type of welfare scheme or another. These factors suggest that Botswana’s “… poor are locked into structural poverty and increasing dependence on state support” (Ministry of Local Government, 2010).
Some significant sources of vulnerability have been identified, foremost amongst them HIV and AIDS, adverse climatic conditions and climate change. HIV and AIDS is an especially potent source of vulnerability because of the severity of its impact on the capabilities and assets of affected households. Since the mid 1990s, it has eroded gains made in reducing morbidity and mortality, and reduced life expectancy by more than 10 years.
Vulnerability to poverty has some distinctive features. Rural areas, South Western Botswana in particular and remote areas in general, are relatively more vulnerable to poverty as shown in figure 1.2. This is a result of inferior resource endowment and relative isolation from the mainstream economy. The elderly, children and the infirm also experience heightened vulnerability due to deficiencies in essential capabilities e.g. education, skills and health. Furthermore, poverty is strongly positively correlated with unemployment and deprivation in productive assets.
The strategic challenges for education have largely
been identified. Foremost amongst these are:
- Increasing enrolment and retention rates: Botswana’s high enrolment rates suggest that in aggregate terms, lack of access to basic education exists at the margin. Consequently, closing the access gap is a twofold challenge: (a) Reaching children that are hardest to reach - those in remote areas, those born to communities that are averse to education for reasons of culture, religion or livelihood systems; and those born in abject poverty; (b) getting parents to do their part to ensure their children stay in school. Three interventions that might help close the gap are:
- Early Childhood Education: Only 17.8% of
Botswana’s children access pre-school education
(BFHS, 2007), and mainly in urban areas. This is
so because pre-school education is privately
provided, which means that cost is constraint on
access. Pre-school education could help improve
retention rates and learning achievement and is
especially critical for children with the steepest
learning challenges – those from poor households
and remote areas.
- A rights perspective to education: The lifecycle disadvantages of being uneducated - vulnerability to poverty, disease, abbreviated lifespan etc. - require that access to education be assured for all children as a matter of child protection and a right. Legislation making education compulsory and criminalising child labour is a necessary instrument for protecting this right and enhancing children’s prospects for safe passage to secure adulthood.
- Teenage Pregnancy Pregnancy is the main reason girls drop out of secondary school. Although girls who fall pregnant can be re-admitted into the school system six months after giving birth, not all girls return to school. Pregnancy is an undesirable disruption to education and carries serious lifecycle risks for the girl children.
- Ensuring that the quality of education matches the volume of investment: Botswana invests more per capita in education than any other country in Africa. Yet, its learner achievements, based on standard tests such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), are poor. For instance, Botswana’s 8th grade mathematics and science score dropped from 365 to 355 between 2003 and 2007, moving further below the average score of 500 (TIMSS, 2007). According to Figure 2.5, Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) results have also deteriorated between 2005 and 2009. According to MoESD, the main cause of the decline in PSLE results is the introduction of a more challenging primary school curriculum.
In a recent survey of Botswana, Kenya, South
Africa and Swaziland, only 25% of standard six
students could manage the desired level of reading
(Education for all, Global Monitoring Report 2009,
UNESCO, pp. 108-109). Quality education requires
an all round improvement in the educational
service – infrastructure, equipment, materials,
teacher numbers and competencies, curriculum,
school management, policies etc. There is concern
within MoESD that the curriculum is getting
overcrowded with “emerging issues” such as
HIV and AIDS, gender, climate change, ICT, and
entrepreneurial skills to the detriment of quality.
- Cultural and Language Barriers: Mother tongue instruction in the early years of education can positively influence retention rates and learning achievement. The biggest constraints on mother tongue instruction are the shortage of teachers fluent in some local languages, especially those of disadvantaged minorities such as the Basarwa, and lack of policy support for mother tongue education. Policy provides for only two mediums of instruction in school: Setswana in the first two years and English thereafter. In the absence of broad-based access to pre-school education, the policy position is a potentially serious constraint on access to education and learning achievement for children whose mother tongue is neither Setswana nor English.
- Empowerment through education: Education is one of the most powerful instruments for the economic, political and social empowerment of women. Through education, parity between men and women will be extended to vocational education, and tertiary education, skills endowments more generally and social, economic and political outcomes.
- Violence against women: The domestic violence legislation provides legal protection for women. However, this is a benefit women will access only if the law is adequately enforced. Thus, advocacy to engender low societal tolerance for violence against women is germane to the implementation of this critical piece of legislation
- Improved coordination amongst service providers: Better coordination amongst service providers is necessary to ensure synergy and completeness of the service package available to victims of gender-based violence. It will ensure, for instance, that a woman who presents at a clinic to be treated for domestic violence gets referred to the police and social services based on established routine. Currently, violence against women is dealt with in silos: hospitals address the effects of physical abuse, the police deal with the crime, social services deals with psychosocial issues etc. There is always a risk that some cases will not reach all the service points they should reach.
- Legislative coverage of marital rape: Marital rape is a violation of women’s rights that could have dire consequences for them. For instance, a wife who prefers safe sex contracts HIV from an unfaithful spouse who gets infected and rapes her without protection.
- Improved monitoring and analysis of gender: There are significant weaknesses in the documentation, monitoring and analysis of gender issues, especially in the areas of economic empowerment and violence. Gender issues need to be documented and monitored effectively to support advocacy and policy processes.
Botswana has accepted that climate change is a reality and that it should be taken into account in national environmental policies and strategies. For instance, agricultural production might become costlier as a result of climate change. Against this backdrop, the concepts of resilience, vulnerability and adaptation are critical to understanding the human dimensions of climate change. These issues and their linkages need to be understood. To this end, Botswana is conducting studies in order to improve the country’s understanding of the interaction between climate, society and environment and to provide insights into the country’s vulnerability to climate change and adaptive capacity.
Climate change projections suggest that the rainfall season will be shorter and less reliable in the future so there is a high need for careful management of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems. Energy efficiency and conservation issues have also become important.
Land Management and Natural Resource Conservation
The key issues on land are rangeland degradation due to a high livestock population; the tendency of farmers to keep cattle in excess of sustainable stocking levels; low off-take rates; the incidence of bush fires which reduce available forage; self allocation of land in peri-urban areas; competition for land between livestock and wildlife; and reduction in grazing and arable land due to the encroachment of alternative uses. Other threats to biodiversity include rangeland degradation, the destructive habitats, climate change and the potential introduction of genetically modified organisms.
New challenges have emerged in the management of settlement areas. These include pressure on urban services and infrastructure due to the high rate of urbanization; littering; inadequate management of waste in rural areas; as well as lack of adequate information on hazardous waste in general.
MDG 8 :The Major challenges
Outlined hereunder are some of the key development
challenges Botswana must, with the support of
development partners, overcome to achieve human
development outcomes consistent with its economic
- Bridging the gap between good macroeconomic performance and relatively poor microeconomic performance: Botswana’s record of good macro-economic performance co-exists with relatively poor performance at the micro level. Levels of unemployment and poverty are too high for an upper middle income country. It can also be argued that the development of the business sector has also lagged behind public investment in infrastructure, business incentives and support services.
- The Global Economic Crisis: An immediate challenge facing Botswana is the impact of the global economic crisis. GDP contracted by 3.7% in 2009. Mining, which recorded a decline of 20.9%, contributed to most of the decline while the rest of the economy grew at 6.2%. Due to a fall in diamond exports, the current account is estimated to have recorded a deficit of 2.1% of GDP in 2009 compared to a surplus of 3.5% in 2008. Lower mineral revenues were compounded by slower growth in other revenue sources, including the Southern African Customs Union (SACU, foreign exchange reserves, and domestic taxes.
- Diversification and Competitiveness: Although much has been said about the importance market access to the development of poor countries, supply capacity is an equal if not bigger constraint for Botswana. Botswana must make the strategic investments necessary to raise the external competitiveness of its goods and diversify the economy. Whilst this would require more analytical work, broad bandwidth to help reduce communications costs; energy; infrastructure;education and skills development are some of the areas where public investment, especially with the requisite emphasis on quality and efficiency, could pay handsome dividends.
- Increased focus on technology driven businesses: Botswana must appreciate the unique constraints it faces as a landlocked country. Industries that require bulk transport are unlikely to succeed on a large scale in Botswana because of lack of access to sea, which often raises transport costs to prohibitive levels. A shift in emphasis to technology driven businesses could help mitigate the cost disadvantage due to lack of access to the ocean. For instance, in the area of services, investment in broad bandwidth could cut unit costs significantly and give added impetus to growth in the services sector.
- ↑ :The rate of teenage pregnancy in Botswana was estimated at 9.7% in 2007 (Botswana Demographic Survey 2007):