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