Poverty eradication schemes failing young women

Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi has lashed out at the public service for failing to fully dispatch information and execute poverty alleviation programmes meant to minimise linkages between poverty and HIV/AIDS prevalence.

He lamented that this had resulted in a majority of these schemes not having a meaningful impact in addressing the socio-economic challenges that perpetuate the spread of the epidemic, especially among young women.

Masisi made this remark after startling revelations were made at the National AIDS Council (NAC) on Tuesday, alluding that a number of government initiatives meant to combat the double burden of poverty and HIV/AIDS are little known and are hardly accessible to young women.

It is further surprising that these statistics are from a survey undertaken in close proximity to Gaborone- in the Moshupa sub district.

These findings were presented by Dr Anne Cockcroft of CIET Trust Botswana, who is at the forefront of a project dubbed Inter-ministerial National Structural Intervention Trial (INSTRUCT).

This is a collaboration between CIET and Botswana government meant to scale up and roll out a combined package of structural and behavioural interventions to reduce choice disability and gender particularly among young women.

Cockcroft said the study undertaken between June and July last year, revealed that Ipelegeng is the most widely accessible of the programmes.

“Just under 16 percent (15.5 percent) of them have not heard about Ipelegeng, while 59 percent have heard about it but didn’t apply for the services. About 4.5 applied but failed to make it while 21 percent had benefited from the programme,” he said.

About 59 percent of this demography said they had heard about Tirelo Sechaba but had not applied for the scheme, 26 percent expressed lack of knowledge about it, against 18 percent who applied and did not succeed. Only three percent of young women have benefited from it.

Very insignificant numbers of young women have benefited from agriculture geared initiatives such as the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD). The scheme has benefited 1.3 percent of young women, whereas 3 percent have applied and failed.

As for Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development - 39 percent have not heard about it, 47 percent did not apply, 13 percent applied and were unsuccessful while just a percentage had benefited.

The Department of Gender Affairs is the least known among this demography due to the fact that their offerings are targeted at women above 35 years. 

A whooping 81 percent declared that they did not know about this department and the services it provides, 19 percent have never applied for the services, under a percentage  (0.5 percent) applied and failed while none have benefited from it.  Cockcroft said these programmes are less impactful as they are marred by inconsistencies and lack of transparency in terms of eligibility, and processes used to grant the schemes. 

She said social welfare officers across the country have differing ways of gauging and assessing eligibility; hence young women are always excluded in favour of elderly and male members especially those in extended families.

To this, Masisi responded, “It is the fatal truth, people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing because programmes are not serving those intended to serve.”

Masisi added that government departments lack crucial research development and planning tools to measure and monitor the impact of these programmes.

“It is unfortunate that you use the most flowery language to describe these programmes. The scariest thing is that you believe they are serving people,” he charged.

Masisi said the turn of events had proliferated the economic standing and vulnerability of Batswana, especially young women, thereby heightening risks of contracting HIV/AIDS.

About 1,500 young women were interviewed for the survey. The research will be extended to four other districts namely Tutume, Kgalagadi North, Thamaga and South East at the beginning of 2016.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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