On Friday, the global village celebrated World Population Day, an annual commemorated to raise awareness on global population issues. This commemoration was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 198 and is said to have been inspired by the interest in Five Billion Day on 11 July 1987 – approximately the date when the world's population reached five billion.
This year’s theme, "Investing in Young People," comes at a right time in our lives as people in Africa and Botswana. The world has suffered one of the worst economic recessions that started in 2008. This was to become a period of economic ruin for some big business, workers in large numbers all over, lost their jobs. Not only jobs were lost, but property, especially housing, thus leaving people homeless. Though the economy has recovered steadily from the economic knock, the effects are still felt to date. Countries, companies and organisations are re-building and it is proving to be a difficult task. However the most affected, is people; the populations. Young people suffer more, more especially that they are the most active and looking for jobs to earn a living. Botswana, despite her middle income status, has also suffered the same fate. She has not remained untouched by this economic storm. We have high unemployment rates, poverty levels and other associated social ills like prostitution, crime, drug-abuse and others. The World Population Day is a time for us to pause and think as individuals about how we can make this world a better place; how we can start at home teaching our children about the importance of education and also about using our lands and cattle post to produce food to feed our families. Right now almost everyone who stays in town, even those in rural areas, depend on retail stores to get their food. As Batswana, we have land or access to it and can use it to turn our lives around. This will be easy to do as we have a history of tilling our lands and rearing our livestock to provide food for ourselves. In its early days of independence, Botswana’s economic mainstay was agriculture. We therefore have a culture that we can fall back on and use our land to be food sufficient and possibly supply other countries. What we need is a mind-set change; to disabuse ourselves of the attitude of depending on imported foods. A lot of foods like sorghum, maize, potatoes, beans and others can be easily grown in a tshimo. As we march towards 2016, we need to take stock of our lives and especially for those who are unemployed, it is time to go back to the lands and agree with your folks on how you can be assisted to use that farmland to grow crops and other foods. There are a few examples of young people in Botswana who have turned their back on the lavish metropolitan lifestyle to look for green pastures in food production in rural areas. It would be a great day when we could go back to those days when family households would have their own granaries full of food to last them months.
The United Nations has revealed that around 1.8 billion young people are at work, building the foundation of the world's future. Still, this group, continues to grapple with poverty, inequality and other chllenges.