Located in Southern Africa, Botswana is one of Africa’s most stable countries, with a solid economy built on diamonds and Safari-based tourism. However, the country continues to struggle with high rates of HIV/AIDS, as well as other preventable diseases. Here are the top three deadliest diseases in Botswana:

1. HIV

HIV is not only one of the deadliest diseases in Botswana, but it is also the number one cause of death, accounting for 32 percent of all deaths in the country. Despite the disease’s prevalence, the Ministry of Health’s national HIV program has helped efforts progress. Approximately 96 percent of people in need of HIV treatment in Botswana have received it. Increased prevention of mother-to-child transmission has reduced the transmission rate to less than four percent.

2. Malaria

While seven percent of deaths each year are due to malaria, Botswana has significantly reduced the disease’s burden. Government interventions, such as establishing rapid response teams and adequate healthcare facilities, has helped reduce incidences from 0.99 to 0.01 percent between 2000 and 2012. Botswana’s progress has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, the country received the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Award for its progress in reducing malaria.

3. Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis is very common in Botswana, causing six percent of deaths each year. Part of what makes TB so dangerous is that it is a common opportunistic infection in people with HIV. In Botswana, 75 percent of patients with TB are HIV-positive. TB rates began rising in Botswana with the increase in HIV/AIDS in the 1990s, with rates from 200 cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 620 per 100,000 in 2002. With the help of international partners, the government has launched numerous programs aimed at increasing testing, prevention and awareness of the link between HIV and TB.

Despite its steady economy and stable government, Botswana continues to suffer from high rates of preventable diseases. That said, the government has made significant progress in reducing this prevalence of these diseases and continues to dedicate important time and resources to prevention.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Botswana was rated as Serious on the Global Hunger Index, and hunger in Botswana is a problem that is highly correlated with climate. Botswana has a semi-arid climate that is not opportune to grow food. In the summer, temperatures can climb as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

For this reason, the nation imports 90 percent of its food. Global food prices in 2011 were particularly high, and this caused Botswana’s food security to suffer. Every few decades, Botswana experiences a drought that can last five years or more. Those in poverty cannot afford imported food, and therefore are most affected by droughts within the country.

From 2008-2012, 31 percent of children in Botswana suffered moderate to severe stunting due to malnutrition, according to UNICEF. In 2016, almost a quarter of the population was malnourished and 23 percent of children under five years old were affected by stunting. In 2012, the amount of stunting in children under five was doubled in children from the most impoverished families compared to children from wealthier families. The government has invested in infrastructure to help increase food production.

Climate change directly affects crops and water for irrigation. Ninety-five percent of crops in sub-Saharan Africa depend on rainwater irrigation. There is an average of 460 mm of rain in Botswana each year, depending on the region. In comparison, the average amount of rainfall in the United States each year is 767 mm.

One solution to hunger in Botswana is to focus on creating jobs in the agricultural sector, rather than creating an abundance of food. In 2010, 26.4 percent of employment in Botswana was in the agricultural sector. Only wealthy farmers can afford the fossil fuels necessary for large scale production. Since expensive farming methods increase food prices, Botswana should focus on farming methods that create jobs for more people.

To alleviate hunger in Botswana, the large role that agriculture plays in the economy should not be ignored.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Supported by the discovery of diamonds, poverty in Botswana has reduced while the country has achieved universal access to HIV treatment and strengthened their social services.

Botswana, a small landlocked country of 2 million people, was once one of the poorest countries in Africa. In 1996, the country was one of the least developed and poorest nations in the world with a per capita annual income of $83. In the years that followed, Botswana had one of the fastest growing economies in the world. By the 21st century, Botswana’s per capita annual income was $7,300. The success has come from Botswana’s partnership with De Beers, a diamond mining and trading company, which helped develop its diamond resources.

The diamonds of Botswana are very difficult to find. They are not sedimentary, rather they are found deep in the ground making them more valuable. The country shares joint-ownership, which guarantees Botswana the majority of the profits, with De Beers.

Due to low global demand for minerals and metals, Botswana’s economy began to decrease in 2012, but bounced back in 2013 and then decelerated again in 2014 and 2015; however, the economy is expected to rebound with projected economic growth rates of 3.7% and 4.3% respectively in 2016 and 2017, driven mainly by an improvement in diamond prices.

Once the money from diamonds starts coming in, all the revenues are reinvested in other assets. Priorities include investing in schools, roads, electricity and getting running water into homes and farms.

When the HIV/AIDS crisis came to Botswana, the country used its diamond money for public investment to essentially buy HIV/AIDS treatments for every citizen that was infected. Nearly 95 percent of the population now lives within 8km of a healthy facility.

Botswana’s discovery of the diamond has created more than 2,000 jobs and stabilized the economy. The percentage of people in poverty in Botswana continues to decrease, with a decline in citizens living at or below the poverty line from 50 percent to about 19 percent today.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Flickr

Education in BotswanaBotswana, one of Africa’s most stable countries, is the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy. The country is relatively free of corruption, has a good human rights record and is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation. In addition, education in Botswana has developed rapidly after the country became independent on September 30, 1966.

Although the Ministry of Education in Botswana spends around 30% of public spending on vocational and academic learning, education is only free from the age of 6 to 13.

Richard Khumoekae, Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) President, suggests that Botswana should adopt a model of basic education especially because it currently values natural resources (diamonds, in particular) more than human resources.

Despite the criticism, the Botswanan government has continuously attempted to improve the educational system. Education is the top priority in the national budget. As it relates to primary education, the government aims to make sure that children are literate in both Setswana and English. The primary education curriculum also includes mathematics, science and social science.

Botswana’s “ten-year school programme,” adopted from the idea of Patrick van Rensburg, a South African educationalist, includes both primary and junior secondary levels, focuses on teaching children vocational and practical skills. Primary education is fully funded by the government, and most of the cost of secondary education is also funded by the state. These continuous attempts of the government to improve the education system in Botswana have led to a high literacy level, as more than 95% of the population between 15 and 24 years old can read and write.

Botswana, as a diamond-rich country, managed to overcome a so-called “resource curse”: the notion that countries with abundant natural resources do not perform as well economically as those without. It was one of the fastest-growing economies, with an average growth rate of nine percent per year, between gaining independence in 1966 and 1980. This was mainly due to its successful education reforms.

According to a recent statement, the government of Botswana is looking to diversify away from diamonds, because the precious mineral, like all-natural resources, is not going to last forever. The government is also looking for other ways to increase employment for the youth population.

According to Botswana’s education policy documents over the last 4 decades, the ideal system for education in Botswana promotes four principles: democracy, development, self-reliance and unity. One of the main objectives of the national education is “to attain competence in progress of education.”

Although Botswana still has to make sure that education becomes more compulsory, even for education level above primary, the country continues to make progress for future generations.

Gulyn Kim

Photo: Flickr

Rural Botswana
According to the Botswana Poverty Assessment released by the World Bank, thousands have risen out of poverty in rural Botswana as a result of government-supported programs that improved people’s livelihoods.

The report said increased agricultural income and improved welfare resulted in 158,000 people being removed from poverty in rural Botswana between 2002 and 2010.

Botswana was one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. However, it is now categorized among high middle-income countries. The World Bank said if this trend continues, less than 15 percent of the population will be living below the poverty line by 2018.

“Tackling poverty is at the heart of our National Development Plan. We are pleased to see that our welfare programs have improved the lives of many and made a dent in poverty levels,” said Olebile Gaborone, coordinator of Poverty Eradication.

The report accredits the 87 percent decrease in rural poverty to a drastic change in the demographic structure of the population and a decrease in household size and dependency rations.

Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Dikgang Makgalemele, said “the remarkable reduction in poverty was a result of sustained robust economic growth over the past few decades and sound government policies and programs that ensure the benefits of economic growth trickle down to the whole strata of the society.”

The study also predicts that with the help of education, social protection and employment, poverty levels in Botswana could fall below 12 percent by 2018, and below six percent by 2030.

The report advises investing in education so that more Botswanans have the skills to meet the labor demand, as well as creating a private sector that focuses on creating better jobs for the impoverished population.

“We see from our research that agricultural support programs were clearly a big part of the progress achieved during the period under review,” World Bank Senior Economist Victor Sulla said. “Going forward, investments in human capital and efficient safety-net targeting will be critical to accelerating poverty reduction and reducing inequality further.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: AllAfrica, World Bank
Photo: Google Images

hunger in botswana
Botswana is undoubtedly one of Africa’s greatest success stories. After the country gained independence in 1966, it experienced robust economic growth and now boasts consistently high gross domestic product growth rates. Indeed, Botswana’s gross national income per capita for 2013 was $7,730, ranking it above South Africa and well above the average for Africa.

Although Botswana’s economic performance is relatively high, it is not without social problems. According to the World Bank, just under a third of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty, and much of the country’s wealth lies disproportionately with the richest 20 percent of the population.

Part of Botswana’s economic success since independence lies in the government’s pro-poor policy making.

“Each and every Batswana [citizen] has a right to land for residential and agricultural purposes,” said the Southern African Regional Poverty Network. “Within customary tenure areas,which comprise 79 percent of all land and which are controlled through a decentralized system of locally elected Land Boards, land is allocated for free.”

Botswana does not face extreme hunger problems due to its equitable land policies and extensive social safety programs.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, undernourishment, the measure of the shortfall of nutrition in the average adult’s diet, is measured from the number of kilocalories missing from the diets of undernourished people in a given country. In Botswana, the depth of hunger, measured by the average dietary energy deficit of undernourished people, is 240 kilocalories.

In other words, the average undernourished individual in Botswana needs an additional 240 kilocalories to maintain a healthy diet. Although Botswana does not suffer the severest form of undernourishment in the world, it ranks below average.

Moving forward, hunger in Botswana may deepen if not properly addressed, as several problems exist. For starters, rapid urbanization in Botswana means domestic food production is likely to decrease, as rural farmers move to urban areas for employment. Fewer domestic farmers mean the country will need to import more food to meet its nutrition demands, increasing the cost of food (the country already imports 90 percent of its food, a disastrous reality susceptible to global food price fluctuations.)

Furthermore, rising energy prices exacerbate the cost of food production, and infrastructure, including roads and power lines, could certainly be improved.

If current trends continue, Botswana’s hunger issues will worsen based on food prices and agricultural developments. However, like many other countries in Africa, Botswana will need to look inward to creative development solutions to propel its population forward out of food insecurity.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: Aljazeera, BBC, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, UNDP, SARPN, UN, FAO
Photo: Aljazeera

For a sparsely populated and landlocked nation in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana has achieved much in terms of social and economic development. The country has experienced stable economic growth since claiming independence in 1966. Unlike many other African nations, Botswana is not frustrated by political instability and widespread corruption. In addition, the government has long championed environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism. For now, Botswana remains one of Africa’s success stories.

But the nation is confronting a range of near and long-term problems that will require innovative solutions. First, Botswana is struggling to diversify its economy. Diamond exports comprise nearly 50 percent of government revenues and more than 70 percent of the nation’s export earnings. In last year’s State of the Nation address, President Ian Khama said, “Dependency on anything is never healthy.”

Sensing the consequences of this dependency, the government is initiating programs to bolster other industries such as agriculture, tourism and textile manufacturing. They have also created the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, which provides low-cost financing and mentoring programs for aspiring business owners. To date, there is little evidence that these programs are stimulating Botswana’s economy. Many economists believe that its proximity to South Africa will make it difficult for Botswana to successfully compete in global markets.

For years, Botswana’s unemployment rate has exceeded 15 percent. Even graduates of Botswana University have had trouble finding jobs that are commensurate with their skills and education. Many well-qualified young people are competing for a small pool of jobs. This dilemma contributes to Botswana’s growing poverty rate, which is currently just above 20 percent. To combat the problem, the government has increased expenditures on social programs, which more than doubled between 1997 and 2005.

Increased funding of social programs is the natural result of an expanding government. In 2005, the average wage of government workers exceeded those in the private sector by more than 40 percent. This disparity between the public wage and private wage has created a wage reservation, whereby people in the private sector believe they should be paid the same as public sector employees. For this reason, many Batswana refuse to seek employment and instead rely solely on the government’s social programs.

Botswana has achieved exceptional economic improvement since 1966. But reliance on diamond mining and government social programs is undermining the country’s ability to sustain economic growth. Appropriate policies should be implemented to diversify revenues, increase private participation in the labor force and reduce dependency on social programs. Otherwise, Botswana’s success could be in jeopardy.

– Daniel Bonass

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations, African Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund
Photo: Telegraph