Dynamics Of Poverty In Botswana

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This explorative qualitative study focuses on the dynamics of poverty among youth and their implications for Botswana realizing and benefiting from the Demographic Dividend. The village of Serinane situated in the poverty-stricken Kweneng West District will be used as a case study. The proposal consists of three Sections. Chapter 1 provides background and justification of the research topic as well as the objectives and significance of the study. Chapter 2 presents a review of the relevant international, regional and local literature on poverty and the demographic dividend. Chapter 3 elaborates on the research site and methods for data collection.

Definitions of Poverty

Most scholars define poverty in economic terms. The ILO (1995), Ringen (1988), Rowntree (1901) and World Bank (1990) consider individuals or families poor when their level of living, measured in terms of income or consumption, is below a particular standard. They argue that poverty is a standard of consumption which is below what is generally considered to be decent. The World Bank poverty line, which is used to measure the standard of poverty internationally has been updated to $1.90 a day which remains the international headline poverty threshold (Ferreira. and Sánchez-Páramo, 2017: Para 10 and World Bank Group 2016:3). Deleeck et al (1992); Spicker (1993) and Sen (1997) define poverty as not just restricted to one dimension like income and consumption but a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs and capabilities or limited access to opportunities for human development such as housing, education, health, food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, information and employment rather than merely as lowness of income. There is also the third element of poverty that Sen (1997) and Siphambe (2003) refer to as participation poverty, which is concerned with the poor people’s inability to participate in decision making processes that affect their lives. This means that the poor are often vulnerable, powerless and usually excluded in important decision making processes. This explorative study will focus on poverty as a severe deprivation of basic human needs (housing, education, health, food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities), capabilities and participation.

Below are the views of respondent on poverty from a Rapid Study on Poverty Alleviation in Botswana by Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis [BIDPA] (1997:60-61)

When a person has nothing of their own… the absence of assets in the form of cleared arable land, livestock, farming implements and cash to purchase productive inputs or hire labour … lack of productive capacity in the form of own physical inability to plough due to old age and infirmity. (Rural poor)

Lack of productive capacity in terms of small businesses…. when a family is unable to provide at least a meal a day on a sustained basis… dirty, torn and few clothes and no shoes ……inability of offspring to find employment and help their parents with their earnings. (Urban poor)

In the country synthesis report on Nigerian Voices of the Poor by Ayoola et.al (2000:10), the poor were perceived to:
Not own their own home and might still be living with their parents…their living conditions might be unhygienic and inadequate… Lack of security and peace which manifests in alcoholism and in domestic arguments and frequent quarreling.

Young people’s perception of poverty from a study on the Views and Experiences of Poverty by Children and Young People in New Zealand by Egan-Bitran (2010).
When you can’t afford school uniform…Lack of books… (Page 16)

Not getting proper opportunities like going on school trips… hard to take part in things like sports and other activities. (Page 15)

Going to school but schools not understanding difficulties families are having, shame and embarrassment for kids… Kids playing up at school and get in trouble because of family issues… Schools reacting to kids’ behavior and not why they are acting that way and maybe kicked out of school. (Page 16)

Global and Regional Dimensions of Poverty

In 2017 the World Bank started reporting poverty rates for all countries using two new international poverty lines in addition to the $1.90 international poverty line: a lower middle-income international poverty line, set at $3.20/day and an upper middle-income international poverty line, set at $5.50/day (Ferreira and Sánchez-Páramo, 2017: Para 10).

The world population is currently at 7.6 billion (Kaneda, Greenbaum and Partierno, 2018) and recent data from the Development Initiatives (2018: 15)’s report reveals that almost 2 billion (1 991 million) people are living on less than US$3.20 a day and thus considered poor whereas 753 million people are living on less than US$1.90 a day and are identified as in extreme poverty. Beegle et al. (2016:1) reveals that most people in the world living below the poverty line are situated in two regions; Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. World Bank (2018: Para 5) adds that more than half of the world’s extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa and if the trend continues, by 2030, nearly 9 out of 10 extreme poor will be in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Local Dimensions of Poverty

Studies reveal that Botswana has been performing well economically since independence. Siphambe (2007) states that Botswana’s average growth has been quite high compared to its neighboring countries in the African region. Despite the evidence to suggest robust economic growth in Botswana, statistics show that in terms of actual access to and distribution of resources, the country still continues to struggle with problems of poverty, inequality, and unemployment (Statistics Botswana, 2013 and Statistics Botswana, 2018). Statistics Botswana (2018:10) reveals that inequality in the country rose from 0.495 to 0.522 between 2009/10 and 2015/16 and it is much higher in the urban areas, inequality in rural areas is currently at 0.474 while for urban areas its 0.518.

According to Statistics Botswana (2015), the official measurement of poverty followed by the Government of Botswana is based on the poverty datum line (PDL), which is a Pula-denominated metric that intends to capture the cost of a basket of goods and services that would satisfy the monthly necessary and adequate requirements of a household in Botswana. It notes that the PDL basket captures the following basic needs: food, clothing, personal items, household goods, services and shelter. It further notes that to account for demographic differences across households, the representative basket depends on age and gender of the household members and to classify a household as poor, the PDL is compared to the observed total consumption of the household and if the total consumption is below the PDL, the household is classified as poor, as well as all its members.

The table above shows a reduction in poverty rates over the years. Even though poverty rates have reduced from the high of 59% in 1985 to the current rate of 16.3% in 2015 the reduction rate over the years has been decreasing and the current poverty rate is still high for a country that has that has been performing well economically.

Statistics Botswana (2018:6) reveal that Kweneng West district is the hardest hit district by poverty in Botswana at 50.6% followed by Ngwaketse West with 40.3% and Kgalagadi South with 39.5%. In 2009 Ngamiland West and Ngwaketse West were the hardest hit districts with 46 and 41 percent respectively (Statistics Botswana, 2013:29). According to Statistics Botswana (2013) and Statistics Botswana (2018), the hardest hit groups are the remote area dwellers (RADS), the youth and children, the elderly, orphans, female headed households and single-parent families.


Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs and SDGs), and the Africa Agenda 2063

Poverty reduction is currently at the forefront of most global development agendas and much progress on reducing poverty has been evident globally. The world took it upon itself when developing the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) in 1990 to halve the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty by 2015. The first MDG target to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015 was attained five years ahead of schedule in 2010 where nearly 1.1 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty by 2015, the numbers reducing from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015 (United Nations, 2015:14&15). Much of this decline was due to impressive growth in Asia, particularly China and India (World Bank, 2018). The extreme poverty rate in Eastern and Southern Asia dropped from 61 per cent in 1990 to 4 per cent and from 52 per cent to 17 per cent respectively whereas sub-Saharan Africa’s decline was from 57 percent to 41 percent for the same period.

However Magombeyi and Odhiambo (2017) and World Bank (2018) add that this goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 was met at an aggregated level and the achievement was not widely shared at regional and country levels as the most populous countries in South Asia (Bangladesh and India) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria) are the five topping the list of countries with the greatest number of extreme poor. World Bank (2018) further highlights that India, with over 170 million poor people in 2015, has the highest number of poor people and accounts for nearly a quarter of global poverty.

In an effort to continue to prioritize the fight against poverty and hunger, while also focusing on human rights for all, the world developed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which build on the successes of the MDGs tackling the unfinished business of the MDGs era (World Health Organization, 2015). UNDP (2018) highlights that the 2030 Agenda is a shared, universal call-to-action for all countries to ensure that no one is left behind. Goal one of the agenda is on the commitment of the world to end poverty in all its forms everywhere (UNDP 2018). The former World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, emphasized the importance of effecting the SDGs in order to end poverty for good with the following statement:
“Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” “But if we are going to end poverty by 2030, we need much more investment, particularly in building human capital, to help promote the inclusive growth it will take to reach the remaining poor. For their sake, we cannot fail” (World Bank, 2018: para 3).

The African Union has also developed the Africa Agenda 2063, which has a set of priorities that define the continental agenda. These priorities are to be integrated into regional and national development plans (African Union Commission, 2014). The African Agenda contains the continent’s shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development. Poverty is covered under

ASPIRATION: A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development where the continent is determined to eradicate poverty in one generation and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent (Africa Union Commission, 2014:10-11). Botswana has developed the National Poverty Reduction Strategy 2003-2009, Visions 2016 and 2036 as well as the National Development Plans which have poverty reduction as their priority areas.

Cite this paper

Dynamics Of Poverty In Botswana. (2020, Sep 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/dynamics-of-poverty-in-botswana/



How is poverty affecting Botswana?
Poverty is a major issue in Botswana, with a significant portion of the population living below the poverty line. The lack of access to basic necessities such as food, healthcare, and education is hindering the country's economic growth and development.
What are dynamics of poverty?
There are many dynamics of poverty, but some common ones are a lack of access to resources, limited education and job opportunities, and a lack of social support.
What can be done to deal with poverty in Botswana?
Botswana has one of the world's highest rates of inequality. Poverty can be addressed by increasing access to education and training, and by providing social safety nets.
What causes poverty in Botswana?
Unstable agricultural conditions in a country where nearly half (48.5 percent) of land is for agricultural use, contribute to poverty. Another major reason why Botswana is poor is the intensity of HIV/AIDS The Philippines is a low-HIV-prevalence country, with 0.1 percent of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive , but the rate of increase in infections is one of the highest. As of August 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) AIDS Registry in the Philippines reported 69,629 cumulative cases since 1984. HIV/AIDS in the Philippines within its borders.
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