UNITED NATIONS POPULATION INFORMATION NETWORK (POPIN)
UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-09: Statement of Botswana, H.E. Mr. Patrick K. Balopi

ISO: BWA

 

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STATEMENT BY HON. PATRICK K. BALOPI - THE MINISTER  OF LABOUR AND HOME

AFFAIRS AND LEADER OF THE   BOTSWANA DELEGATION TO THE INTERNATIONAL

CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT,  CAIRO, EGYPT 5TH - 13TH

SEPTEMBER, 1994.



Mr. President  Your Excellencies, Heads of state and  government

Distinguished Delegates  Ladies and Gentlemen



     It gives me special and previelege to address this historic  and

august conference on an issue that has   assumed international

proportions and has become a great concern to mankind - the issue of

population   and development.



     Population is a global issue whose effects and impact have become

promeinent and most heavily felt   particularly in today's developing

countries. It is therefore, proper and fitting that we should be

gathered   here to exercise our minds on the demographic trends of the

next century and their impact on the quality   of life of individual men

and women.



     Population is not about numbers but about the abilities of our

individual countries resources and   economic viqabilities to sustain

those ever increasing populations.



     Mr.president, development is about people and the process of

development should start with meeting at   least the basic present needs

of our people, providing modern safe and effective family planning

awareness   and services to bring the growth of human numbers more in

line with the available and sustainable world   resources.



     The world population is now estimated at 5.7 billion and is likely

to grow at an average of 95 million   each year resulting in an

estimated world population of 6.2 billion by the end of the century. It

is also   estimated that of this number 96% will be in the developing

countries. If these trends are true as I have no   reason to doubt them,

then we cannot close our minds and expect nature to provide and give

direction to   such a complicated situation. We have to take and be seen

to be taking steps with a view to giving   meaning and direction to this

issue.



     The corner-stone of Botswana's development policies and programmes

has since independence been   the alleviation of poverty and the

provision of basic social needs of its people. The rapid per capita

income   growth resulting from the mineral revenue has enabled most

Batswana to enjoy improved living   conditions.



     Along side this economic growth Botswana has witnessed an increased

population growth of 3.5% per   annum. At this rate the population is

expected to double between 1991 and 2011, a period of 20 years.



     This short doubling period will obviously put pressure not only on

the government and the   communities but more importantly on the non-

renewable resources to sustain it. This will be happening at   a time

when the phenomenal growth of mineral revenues which has supported this

growth in the past will   not be expected.



     Indeed, the rapid population growth now being experienced is

capable of compromising the country's   ability to maintain improved

levels of services in health, education, housing and employment sectors.

Moreover, it is evident that population growth puts considerable

pressure on the nation's fragile eco-  system and in particular, on the

limited natural resources. Other population growth-related issues of

concern to the government of Botswana are the marked increase in teenage

and unwanted pregnancies,   sometimes ending in illegal abortions and

high maternal mortality rates, rapid urbanisation, low health   and

social status of women, undernourishment among children, deteriorating

environment, growing   numbers of street children and the impact of the

HIV/AIDS epidemic on the nation's development   initiatives.



     It is however my government's commitment to address these concerns.

The government has therefore   undertaken necessary policy legislative

changes to permit, among other interventions, safe abortion under

exceptional circumstances where the life of the mother, child or both is

at risk. Under Botswana laws, the   termination of pregnancy or abortion

is carried out by a registered medical practitioner in a government

hospital or a registered private clinic for the purpose, by the director

of health services, and after two   medical practitioners have given

their opinions in writing formed in good faith. The process is therefore

performed following the medical practitioners acceptable evidence that

pregnancy is the result of rape,   defilement or incest and that the

termination of pregnancy or abortion is requested by the victim or where

the victim lacks the capacity to make such a request it is given on her

hehalf by the next of kin or   guardian or the person in loco parents.



     Mr. President, my government wishes to see the current rate of

population growth correspond with the   future rate of economic growth

and, if possible, for the economy to expand at a rate faster than the

population growth in order to attain an increased and sustained standard

of living for our people. To   acheive this objective, appropriate

intervention measures are being put in place to check, in a holistic,

comprehensive and multi-sectoral manner the negative impact of rapid

population growth. Instead of   attempting to accommodate the

consequences of population growth, as was done in the past, government

now wants to influence population growth trends in the desired

direction. Hence, the seventh but current   National Development Plan

(NDP 7) recognizes the need to promote the slow down of the rate of

population growth in order to cater for the youth in terms of education,

health and other amenities, as well   as to provide meaningful

employment. Almost half of the population is under the age of fifteen,

thus   creating a high dependency ratio and posing significant

challenges to the nation's future capacity to   provide social services,

including employment.



     Accordingly, Government has decided that a clearly stated policy on

population as well as a   programme for its co-ordinated  implementation

is needed before the end of the current plan period in   1997. The

thrust of the envisaged policy is to contribute to the reduction of the

high rate of population   growth; improvement in the quality of life of

families, and strengthening the direction, cohesion and co-  ordination

of the many efforts in the population field being undertaken by a number

of organizations.



     To this end, Government  established in  July 1992, the national

council Population and Development (NCPD) as an advisory body charged

with the resposibility of formulation an explicit and comprehensive

national population policy. A jpopulation unit, within the ministry of

finance and development planning, has also been established to

strengthen national coordination of population pjrogrammes and

activities as well as provide administrative support to the national

council on population and development aparliamentary sub-committee on

population and development which includes memers of the house of chiefs-

the custodians of our cultural heritage, also exists and has a close

working relationship with the national council on population and

development.



     As part of the consensus-bulilding effort to attain broad-based

support for the proposed policy ,sensitization and awareness creation,

seminars are being organised both at national and district levels

respectively, to articulate the population concerne of the nation, and

thereby evolve a healthy dialogue between government and the people to

indentify issues, with a view to incorporating the prespectives and

concerns of the various groups into the formulation, design, and

implementation of the population , development and environment

programmes that affect them.



     In the areas of public health care, over the years sectoral

planning has affected demographic trends. Primary health care (PHC) has

been accepted as the most appropriate strategy f9or the attainment of

health for all . The central components of the strategy are equiy,

inter-sectoral collaboration and community involvement . In the past,

active development of voluntary family planning ,despite the absence of

a  comprehensive population policy , has been pursued by government . It

has always set targets for contraceptive levels to be attained as part

of its health delivery strategy . Since 1973 family planning has become

a well-established integral component of the maternal and child health

service provision stresses brith spacing as a means of enhancing the

health and welfare of the child and the mother.



     The programme has made significant progress; infant mortality

level of 45 per 1000 live births has been achieved; there is a 95% level

of knowledge on modern family planning methods by women and consequently

a  contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 33% had been reached by 1991 .

The total fertility rate fell from 6.5 in 1984 to 5.0 in 1988.



     With respect to issues relation to women in development a women's

Affairs Unit was established in 1981 in recognition of the importance of

the contributions by women organisations and non-formal groups to

national development . In 1988 government came up wiht a draft policy

document on women in development after some research and wide

consultations had been undertaken . the objective is to facilitate the

integration of women in national development and to ensure that the

incorporation and inclusion of women's needs and concerns in plans,

policies and programmes is effected . The strengthening  of the women's

Affairs Unit will continue during the currrent plan period. More

research into women's isssues with a view to removing those constraints

which have hitherto inhibited the empowerment of women is being

undertaken and a final fraft policy on women in development is on the

drawing board . The document will serve as a blue print for governmental

& non-governmental organisations efforts towards enhancing women's

participation in national development and meaningful decision making.



     Basic education is a human right and acts as a major catalyst for

change. In 1993 the national commission on education emphasised

investment in education and training as a mecessary condition for

national development since people are the major resource of the nation .

It is intended that education will make a major contribution to economic

growth, social progress and cultural identity within the context of

national development.To empower woment to play a greater relo in the

economy, it is envisaged that training programmes should impart useful

skills and work attitudes and “ that a concerted effort will be made to

increase situation where according to the 1991 population and housing

census nearly one in four of all females working  for cash was a

domestic worker.



     The youth and sports units are set to define national policy in

these areas and to support private and community initiatives.  A study

on the draft policy on youth is currently on - going and will be

finalised later this year or perhaps early in the new year . Better

coordination of youth activities will become necessary, especially among

ministries and government departments particularly those resposible for

culture, education, labour , sports and local government. The objectives

of youth programmes under the current plan are collectionand

dissemination of information; improvement of the already-existing

national structure to serve young people, promotion of basic facilities

for information, cultural development and leisure, including the

inculcation of Botswana culture, promotion of youth programmes as well

as promotion of formation of more youth clubs and associations within

the context of youth mobilization for meaningful participation in

national developemtn .



     Prior to the conception of a broader framework to deal with

children's issues and concerns, the children's act of 1981 has among

other purposes been used for handling juvenile delinquents in towns and

villages. The government of Botswana  is signatory to the declaration on

the world summit on the rights of the child the declaration was an

urgent universal appeal to  give every child a better future, noting

that for the majority of childern in the world the reality of childhood

is subject ot many limitations and dangers that hamper their growth and

developemtn



     The national programme of action (NPA) for children is being

developed by various ministries engaged in children's activities with

the support of donors. It is an attempt ot translate the world summit

for children's goals into action programmes . The implementation of

these programmes is expected to cover a period of 10 years . It is worth

noting that most of the programmes set out in the plan of action of the

world summit are already being implemented and that Botswana has already

surpassed many of the goals set. The cost estimate of those activities

not covered by the current national  development plan over a period of

five(5) years beginning 1993/98  is approximately us$192.3 million.



     Population policy formulation and subsequent implementation cannot

be treated in isolation from the other efforts of government to develop

and enhance the welfare of the population  in general. There are a

number of population- responsive policies, measures and programmes, such

as the national conservation strategy, the rural development policy, the

drought relief and recovery programme which are on-going activities

focused specifically of environmental preservation and alleviation of

rural poverty.



     Mr. president, the relationship between development and

environment has a place in our priority listing of activities. The

conservation of the nation's renewable and non-renewable resources has

been another continuning concern of government as it develops and

implements its development policies and programmes, especially as

development is not sustainable without effective conservation plicies.

Ther is a clear evidence in Botswana that resources are under pressure

and this has given rise to the concern about the ability of the

resources to sustain the needs of the future generations. Mnay of the

nation's resources are being used in ways that are detrimental to their

conservation and to the environment. The impacts of these development

pressures are manifest by rangelands degradation, the use of treesfor

fuel-wood without replanting, the mining of ground water, reduction of

wildlife species and veld products, the generation of wastes which

pollute soil and water,and land erosion.



     To address this concern, government  established in 1990   the

national conservation strategy to accelerate improvements in the

management of the nation's natural resources through more coordinated

and sharply focused programmes. Amidst a number of detaliled development

and conservation goals outlined ,in the strategy is “ the establishment

of a balance between population  growth and the supply of natural

resources” . Presently , government requires environmental impact

assessment studies of all major development projects,and over the years,

many pieces of legislation that bear on conservation matters have been

enacted, namely:



               i  )   Atmospheric pollution (Prevention) act of 1971.

               ii )   Agricultural resources conservation act  (1974)

               iii)   Tribal land act (1970)

               iv )   Fauna conservation act (1968)

               v  )   National parks act (1968)

               vi )   Forest act  (1968)

               vii)   Public act (1968)



     These acts need review and strengthening to enhance their impact

on the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of the

environment.



     One of the goals of the national conservation strategy is “ the

diversification of the rural economy so as to generate new jobs in this

respect, the objectives of governments's rural development policies

include, inter alia, to create productive employment opportunities in

order to reduce the numbers with no visible means of support, and to

improve access to social services such as water, education, and health

care, in order to foster healthier, smaller, better educated and better

fed families.



     Furhtermore, other policies and programmes such as the financial

assistance policy , the arable lands development programme and communal

development  areas programme have all focused on promoting productive

employment and the creation of income-earning opportunities since the

late 1970's creation income-earning opportunities is also an important

ingredient in achieving national households food security through

enhanced incomes.



     Efforts to promote these policies were inhibited by the long

drought in the country which extended form 1991 to 1987.The  drought

eroded rural household assest and incomes and contributed to overgrazing

and environmental degradation.The drought relief and recovery programme

assisted rural dwellers to survive the drought and provided needed

relief during the crisis resulting from this exercise, a borader

strategy for a more “ Drought-resistant” rural economy consistent with

the overall rural development strategy has been adopted by government .

The main features of the scheme include promotion of both farm and off-

farm income earning opportunities in rural areas, giving priority to

water conservation and management efficiency, and the development of a

rural labour intensive public workd programme.finally, the promotion

opportunities will be accopenied by measures of targeted relief

programmes for those who do not benefit from the expansion of the rural

economy.



     Mr. president, with respect to internal migration, it is evident

that people tend to move towards areas of economic oppportunities; some

on a temporary basis during planting and harvesting seasons. but more

oftern in search of more permanent employment . Consequently,

settlements grow and decline together with exonomic opportunities.

However, economic oppportunities in turn depend on the availability of

social and economic infrastucture, as well as access to markets and raw

materials.



     Mr. president, in conclusion, it is gratifying to note that in

spite of lack of a population policy , the government of Botswana has

used a variety of sectoral policies measures and programmes to address,

albeit,, indirectly some of the population concerns of the nation.

However, sice the inception of the current plan in 1991, attempts are

now being made to formulate an explicit population policy, enhance the

national institutional capacity for the integration of  population

factors in national development planning  and finally strenghten the

information base neede for planning , monitoring and evaluation of on-

going and future popualtion programmes.





     Thank you


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