Child Poverty in Botswana
Botswana, Gaborone, 14 February 2011: The phenomenon of child poverty, whether or not the children live with their family or are orphans, is a challenge in Botswana.
Findings of the Child Poverty Study
In 2009/10 UNICEF Botswana requested the Botswana Institute for Development Planning Analysis (BIDPA) to carry out a Child Poverty and Inequalities study by further analyzing the data of the most recent Botswana Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2002/03, in addition to incorporating some data from other, more recent studies, such as the Botswana Family Health Survey 2007, and others. The study examined child-related data both in relation to income poverty, as well as looking at deprivations, including lack of access to sanitation, water, information, education and shelter.
The findings were somewhat predictable: households with children suffer from a higher income poverty rate (33.2%) than the overall population average (30.6%), with children aged 3-4 facing the highest levels of poverty, exceeding 40%. Particularly affected also were children living in households with a high dependency ratio (40.9%) or in households with both children and elderly persons (45.7%), children living in rural areas (43% in the rural North East), those living in households with adults who never attended school (52.2%) or in households where no parent is working (52%).
The report also found that the highest percentage of orphans is among children aged 15-17 (around 27.5%). By region, the rural North East has the highest proportion of orphans.
In terms of deprivations, the report found that 54.2% of children suffer from at least one severe deprivation. The rate of this varies by age group, with about 90% of children aged 3-4 experiencing at least one severe deprivation; around 47% of this age group suffer from 2 or more severe deprivations.
In addition, more than a quarter of children do not have access to a toilet facility; almost 23% of children aged 3-17 do not have access to any form of media. Moreover, almost 13% of children live in dwellings with 5 or more people per room. Around 10% of children aged 5-17 have never attended school.
According to the report, children in rural areas are much more affected by severe deprivations, with 51% experiencing severe sanitation deprivations and 35% of children aged 3-17 not having access to any form of media.
Challenges in combating child poverty
The Child Poverty Study suggests that changes in household composition, caused in large parts by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, have led to an increasing number of households to be headed either by children or grandparents, who tend to be more affected by poverty.
Recommendations for Policy Makers
The report calls for a comprehensive analysis to be undertaken of the situation of vulnerable children in the country. In addition there is a need to improve the effectiveness of educational services and to create employment in rural and poor areas. Data collection methods should also be improved and appropriate mechanisms should be used to evaluate the situation of children in Botswana.