Economic Diversification, Social Development and Poverty Eradication in Botswana: Towards an Integrated Model of Social Protection.
Prof. R.Mupedziswa,PhDUniversity of BotswanaPresented at “Are Diamonds there Forever ?” Conference,LansmoreHotel, Gaborone. 27-28 August, 2014.e.
Organisation of Paper
IntroductionFormal social protection system in BotswanaShortfalls of the formal social protection systemSustainability concernsThe case for a social development perspectiveNon-formal social protection systemInterface - formal/non-formal systems“Diversification” through an integrated model?Concluding remarks
Basic Argument of Paper
The paper argues that the government of Botswana has over the years promoted a social protection system which is the envy of many sister countries in the SADC region. The measures have had a major positive impact in respect of the fight against poverty. However, since the social protection system in place is highly dependent on revenue from the country’s mineral wealth, particularly diamonds, long term sustainability of the social protection system has been questioned. The paper makes a case for the integration offormal andnon-formal (traditional) social protectionsystems, to come up with a social development perspective of social protection which ultimately promotes self reliance (as opposed to giving of handouts).
At independence in 1966, Botswana was a poor country with its people depending on subsistence economy (in particular cattle/beef.Judicious use of mineral resources since the mid 1970s transformed the country’s fortunes, later resulting in Botswana attaining middle income status.Over the years, Botswana has done quite well economically compared to several other SADC countries as can be noted from several basic socioeconomic indicators (See Table 1).
Selected Socioeconomic indicators of SADC Countries 2010(GoSA, 2010)
In the early years, government efforts focused mostly ateconomicgrowth (Ntseane& Solo, 2007).With time, it becameapparentthat economic growth alonewould not be asufficient condition for total eradication ofpoverty (Seleka, et al., 2007).The governmentof Botswana thenmade deliberate efforts to introduce a formal social protection system (social safety nets) for welfare improvement (Ntseane& Solo, 2007).
Formal social protection system - Botswana
Ellis, Devereux & White (2009) have grouped the social protection measures into 4 broad categories:(1).Food and basic needs deprivation of the extremely poor, the destitute, and older persons(e.g. Destitute P. Programme, Orphans & Vulnerable Children., etc.).(2)Low yields and other natural disasters(e.g.Ipelegeng(Ntseane& Solo, 2007).(3)Impact of HIV & AIDS on households. (e.g. CHBC).(4)Income and assert depletion resulting from retirement, sickness, death.(E.g. Pension scheme).
Social protection system-Botswana
Shortfalls of the formal social protection system in Botswana.
Alleviation of hunger rather than providing sustainable livelihoods (Gadibolae (2010).Lack of scope to graduate out of schemes, hence creates dependency syndrome (Ntseane& Solo, 2007).Challenges with targeting, coordination, and implementation deficiencies (Ntseane& Solo, 2007; Mupedziswa &Ntseane, 2012; BIDPA & World Bank, 2014).
A recentSocial Protection Assessmentstudy byBIDPA in conjunction with The World Bank noted that, “While Botswana has many social protection programmes, some of them are rather small relative to the target group they intend to cover or to the number of poor people, which limits their effectiveness” (Balise, 2014).The same study reportedly noted that safety net programmes werefragmented, are implemented by different government ministries, in the process diluting scarce administrative capacity.
Despite the shortfalls, Botswana’s social protection system remains quiteimpressive,by SADC standards.The authoritative South Africa-based Regional Hunger & Vulnerability Programme (RHVP) (2011) noted thatBotswana has a very impressive track record in terms of long standing commitment to state-led social protection..........Work by other researchers (e.g. Mupedziswa &Ntseane, 2012 a, b) has corroborated the observation that Botswana has indeed done well in regard to commitment to rolling out welfare improvement measures.
Sustainability concerns (Continued)
TheSocial Protection Assessmentstudy by BIDPA/WB (2014) indicated that the government spentP5.3 billionon its social protection programmes in the fiscal year 2012/13.This figure, which represents4.4%of GDP, is very impressive and the government ought to be commended for such commitment.However, concern has been expressed over long termsustainabilityof the social protection system, especially since emphasis is on giving of handouts.
Case for social development approach
The existing social protection system predicated on remedial approach (handouts), though noble, should be viewed as only a short term measure since it is ‘relief’-oriented.For the long term, the government may wish to consider ways of working towards promoting the social development perspective.The social development approach emphasises capacity building and empowerment towardsself reliance(Elliot, 2012).The approach appreciatesthe connection between social and economic goals, and stresses theideaof plannedchange. Social justice is adjudged critical.(Hall, 1990).
Lessons from the River Story
The analogy by the American social organiser of the last century,SaulAlinskyof the ‘River Story’ might be instructive inappreciating the need for a social development perspective.The analogy of theleaking water taptoo corroborates the need to promote a social development approach.The Chinese saying aboutcatching fishis moulded along similar lines………..
Non-formal social protection system
The non-formal system may be the missing ingredient towards realisation of the social development approach.Traditionally Botswana depended onnon-formal social protectionmeasures, steeped in people’s cultural beliefs, norms and values, withbothospirit playing a key role.Social groups(e.g. community, kinship ties, family, etc. operated on basis of such values as (e.g. self-help, inherent solidarity, etc )(Olivier,Kaseke&Mpedi, 2008).
Non-formal social protection system (examples)
Tribal granaries (defalana),milkpadcattle (kgamelo), tribal fields (masotla), all of which fell directly under regulation of the Chief.Self-organisedmutual support systemse.g.mafisa(lending cattle to the poor) ;gotshwarateuorbodisa(poor looked after rich people’s cattle in return for a cow);majako(poor worked in field of rich in return for portion of harvest);letsema/molaletsa(voluntary work for poor), etc.Modern-day non-formal social protection initiatives includeburial societies;credit and savings associations.
Interface between formal & non-formal social protection systems
Diversification of social protection systems through their integration ?
The non formal social protection system essentially ‘persists’ in Botswana today essentially because it still has an important role to play.RHVP (2011) has expressed concern that while Botswana has developed animpressivesocial protection system, only asmall segmentof the population does benefit.Concernhas also been voiced over such issues as inadequacyandrestrictive natureof the provisions in the formal social protection system.
Diversification through integration (continued)
It is for these and related reasons that the paper proposesintegrationof the formal and non formal social protection systems.Ideally debate should focus on which initiatives from the two systems are amenable to integration and which aren’t.If the idea of integration were to be taken on, thefirst stepwould probably be to identify those initiatives withpotential, and then find ways of building synergies between them.As Diagram 1 shows, integration is not an end in itself, but rather should be viewed as a means to an end (i.e. realisation of the social development approach and ultimately poverty eradication.
Integrated social protection model: Steps towards poverty eradication
Government of Botswana has done extremely well in terms of commitment to state-led social protection initiatives.However questions have remained regarding long termsustainabilityof the initiatives.There is however need for an integrated approach which would bring together the formal and non formal social protection systems.The idea would be to promote a social development approach which in turn would help build capacities for self reliance, and ultimately povertyeradication.