Despite rapid urbanisation and rural poverty and its impact on the rural population and the larger society, the majority of people in Botswana still reside in rural areas.
This was said by Dr Kenneth Dipholo of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in his presentation at the Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) national stakeholders workshop held in Gaborone on Tuesday.
"The challenges of rural development as a process for increasing income alongside simultaneous poverty reduction (efforts) are made fierce by the all pervasive phenomenon of increasing levels of poverty and disparities in wealth," Dipholo said.
The major objective of rural development policies and strategies entail the provision of opportunities for a reasonable and rising standard of living for rural people, he noted. However, despite efforts to improve the quality of life of people in rural areas, the problem of poverty still persists at an unprecedented rate.
According to the 1988 United Nations Development Plan report, 1.6 billion people, or a quarter of the world's population, are worse than they were 15 years ago. Dipholo pointed out that rural development aims primarily at the alleviation of poverty in rural areas.His presentation quoted a 1997 study by the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) that showed that in 1993/4, at least 47 percent of households in Botswana were living below
There is also a significant lack of equality in income between the rich and the poor. The poorest of 50 percent of the population share 17.4 percent of national wealth while the richest 10 percent of the population controls 42 percent of the total national income. Dipholo said these figures are an indication that while achievements have been made in reducing levels of poverty, a whole lot has to be done not only in poverty alleviation but in reducing the lack of income as well.
According to Dipholo's own study he conducted in 1996, emphasis shifted from the conception of development as a process for the people towards development as a process by the people for their sustained growth. It also suggests that the fundamental challenge of development is the transformation of communities into dynamic and self-reliant entities with effective organisation and development capacities and on the strength of their own internal momentum.