Learn more about specific causes in Botswana that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentNearly three quarters of Botswana is covered by the Kalahari Desert.1 The nation is home to a variety of animal species, including the African elephant, wild dog, buffalo, giraffe, warthog, cheetah, wildebeest and lion.2 71 percent of Botswana’s land is used for grazing, and since surface water is not readily available in most areas, wells must be drilled to reach ground water.3 There are national concerns that the Okavango Delta, a large body of water and ecosystem, is being depleted as a result of overgrazing.4
FamilyHIV/AIDs in families can leave children in Botswana vulnerable or orphaned,1 particularly since Botswana’s adult prevalence rate is 21.9 percent, nearly a quarter of the population.2 The birth rate in Botswana is high, 22 births for every 1,000 people. However, the country has a high infant mortality rate at 29.6 deaths per 1,000 births, and an equally high maternal mortality rate of 129 deaths per 100,000 live births.3 Botswana established the Domestic Violence Act in 2008 to provide protection and retribution for domestic violence victims.4
Human RightsBotswana is a champion of human rights across the African continent, and often contributes its voice in speaking against injustice.1 While elections are viewed as free and fair, the same political party has been in power since Botswana gained its independence.2 The death penalty is still enforced, and has been since 1966, particularly on those convicted of murder, treason, or an attempt on the life of a state official.3 The government removed an indigenous people group, the Bushmen, from the Kalahari Desert in the early 2000s, as the group was living in an area that held a sizable diamond field.4 The Bushmen won a lawsuit to return to their land in 2011, yet still face opposition from the government.5
EducationLiteracy rates in Botswana sits at just 88 percent, meaning 12 percent of the population over 15 cannot read and write. Women actually have a higher literacy rate than men, 88.9 percent of Batswana women can read and write compared to 88 percent of men.1 86 percent of Batswana attend primary school, but just 35 percent attend secondary school; education is free for the first 10 years and begins when a child is six years old.2 Ketumile Masire, who led from the early 1980s until 1998, was an active proponent for education, building many schools, and creating an infrastructure for the nation; in the 1960s, at the time of its independence, Botswana had no public high schools.3 Botswana is the first nation in Africa to Read More offer its girls feminine hygiene products through its public and private schools to prevent female students from missing school during their menstrual cycles; they are the second nation in the world to do this.4 The nation is also taking steps to prevent young girls from being exploited by older males who may offer them gifts or financial assistance for sexual relationships by implementing health and sex education programs.5 Show Less
PovertyCurrently, 19.3 percent of Batswana citizens live below the international poverty line.1 Formerly one of the most impoverished nations in the world, Botswana has achieved middle-income status, though there is unequal wealth distribution and the unemployment rate is currently stands at 20 percent.2 The GDP per capita is $18,100, and the nation is one of the least corrupt, best places to do commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa.3 Botswana is third in the world for adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS, at 21.9 percent of the population, slowing economic growth.4
ReligionBotswana upholds a strict separation of church and state.1 The official constitution of the country allows for and protects religious freedom. This has led to a proliferation of various religious groups within Botswana.2 Religious education is admissible in schools, providing that the tolerance of all religions is emphasized.3 The most common religion in Botswana is Christianity (79.1 percent), followed by nonreligious (15.2 percent), and then Badimo (4.1 percent) and other or unspecified (1.7 percent).4
Clean WaterThough Botswana has experienced one of the world’s highest growth rates since becoming an independent nation, the country still experiences challenges in providing its citizens with clean water and sanitations facilities. 96 percent of the population in total has access to clean water, but 7.7 percent of the rural population in Botswana lacks access to improved water sources.1 Additionally, 36.6 percent of the population does not have proper sanitation facilities.2 In spring of 2017, the World Bank gave Botswana a $145.5 million loan to aid in their water security concerns.3
EconomyDiamond mining accounts for a quarter of the Batswana GDP, with tourism being the second most lucrative industry.1 Diamond exports in 2017 totaled to approximately 22 million carats.2 De Beers diamond company moved its stone sorting and trading industry to Gaborone in 2013 in order to further support Botswana’s economic growth.3 Botswana’s economic growth rate in 2017 was 4.5 percent, a high rate, particularly for a developing nation.4 It is known for being one of the least corrupt, best places to do commerce in sub-Saharan Africa.5 Botswana is ranked second highest in the region for economic freedom, just behind Mauritius.6 Other industries besides diamonds include copper, nickel, salt, coal, iron ore, silver, beef and textiles.7
GovernmentBotswana is a parliamentary republic with a president who serves as the chief of state and head of government.1 Despite the multi-party system that governs the country, the Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since independence was gained in 1966.2 Overall, the government takes a very aggressive stance against corruption.3 Botswana has been hailed as the least corrupt nation in Africa. The nation adheres strictly to international standards regarding transparency and is tough on crime.4 Over the past year, a national anti-graft agency has been created and is doing effective work in the country.5
HealthThe birth rate in Botswana is high, 22 births for every 1,000 people. However, the country has an equally high infant mortality rate at 29.6 deaths per 1,000 births, as well as a high maternal mortality rate of 129 deaths per 100,000 live births. This places Botswana in the 75th percentile for worst infant and maternal mortality rates.1 The nation is third in the world for adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS at 21.9 percent;2 yet the nation is not leading in HIV/AIDS mortality rate, and is ranked at 36th in the world for deaths caused by HIV/AIDS.3
ChildrenThe length of a Batswana student’s school-life is typically 13 years, but the Batswana education system runs from primary school through upper secondary school. Additionally, the infant mortality rate is 29.6 deaths per 1000 members of the population.1 According to UNICEF, Botswana has a persisting problem in child malnutrition and underfeeding, either from lack of variety in diet, or from lack of quantity and security of meals.2 The number of Batswana under the age of 18 is 716,695, reflecting a slow population growth rate.3 Children begin their education at age six and can continue until age 17; their schooling is free for the first 10 years.4
AnimalsChobe National Park houses the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa, and Botswana on a whole is home to a wide variety of wildlife including the African elephant, wildebeest, cheetah, lion, wild dog, warthog and buffalo.1 The semi desert regions provide ample grazing grounds after rain, though desertification is a threat to Botswana's ecosystems, in part due to overgrazing, in regions like the Okavango Delta.2 Botswana is party to a number of international environmental initiatives including agreements on biodiversity, climate change, desertification and hazardous waste.3
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