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Botswana’s poorest village is...

MBONGENI MGUNI
A groundbreaking assessment of poverty levels at villages released this week has provided a deeper look into the oft-cited challenge of inequality in the country. As expected, Orapa and Jwaneng sit in the lap of luxury, while Kutuku in Ngwaketse West is home to the wretched of the earth. Staff Writer, MBONGENI MGUNI reports

Kutuku, a village in Ngwaketse West, has 166 residents according to the last census. And according to a World Bank/Statistics Botswana report released this week, 100 of those villagers are classified as poor.

According to the report, this means the affected residents earn less than P1,332 per month.

The cost of basic needs such as food, clothing, personal items, household goods, services and shelter are beyond reach for these 100 villagers and it is unlikely that the other 66 are comfortably above the poverty line.

According to researchers, Ngwaketse West is Botswana’s second poorest region and Kutuku the worst within the worst, in a report that exposes the inequality gap between villages across the country. For purposes of comparison, the researchers have grouped cities, towns, villages and settlements as ‘villages’.

“The identification of poor areas has become one of the main keys for targeting social programmes and for allocating public resources to finance projects,” the report reads.

“The advantage of understanding how different these villages are from each other helps in efficiently allocating government resources to the poorest population.”

And the villages are starkly different from each other, even within the same district.

Not far from Kutuku, the mining town of Jwaneng is ranked as the second richest village or in the report’s terms “the village with the second lowest poverty rate”.

Of the 13,162 residents of Jwaneng, only 342 are classified as poor representing less than three percent.“In about seven districts up to 20 percent of the villages significantly differ in their poverty rate from the district poverty rate,” researchers note.

“Additionally, in one district, 45 percent of its villages significantly differ from the district poverty rate.

“This

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result provides evidence for targeting social programmes at the village level in those districts presenting villages with poverty rates significantly different from the district poverty rates.”

The same paradox is evident in the Okavango Delta, which is ranked the third poorest district with a poverty rate of 35 percent, while also containing two of the country’s ‘richest’ villages.

At the top end of the scale, Orapa, the ‘richest’ village, has 62 people classified as poor, out of a total population of 8,857.

Gaborone has the third lowest poverty rate, followed by Sowa Town, Tumasera/Seleka, Tlokweng, Moeng (Central Serowe, Palapye), Katamga in the Okavango, Musi in Barolong, Shashe Bridge, Mogoditshane and Masunga. Matebeleng in Kgatleng rounds up the top 10, with only 160 people classified as poor out of a population of just above 2,000.Francistown and Selebi Phikwe are ranked 12th and 13th respectively. The ‘rich list’ is expected, as the mining towns of Orapa, Jwaneng and Sowa Town are largely made up of mining professionals, while Gaborone, Tlokweng and Mogoditshane represent major industrial and commercial hubs in the country.“Consistent with results seen in other countries, cities and towns tend to show a lower poverty incidence than rural areas.

“In this case, poverty in cities and towns is at eight percent and 24.3 percent in rural areas.

“In urban villages, the poverty rate is 19.9 percent,” the report reads.

The poor list is generally dominated by the southern and western regions such as Ngwaketse West, Southern District and Gantsi.

After Kutuku, researchers have placed Gasita (Southern District), Lejwana (Barolong), Sesung (Southern), Lotlhakane West, Betesankwe, Ralekgetho (Southern) and Groote Laagte (Gantsi) as the 10 poorest villages.



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