Kweneng West remains the most poverty stricken region in Botswana with poverty levels of 50.6 percent. This is according to the findings of the Botswana Multi-Topic Household Survey (BMTHS) which were unveiled this week by Statistics Botswana. The survey was covered during the 2015/2016 period for both urban and rural areas in all districts and sub-districts. According to the results of the survey, rural areas are the most hit by poverty followed by urban areas while cities/towns are the least hit. Kweneng West is followed by Ngwaketse West at 40.3 percent and Kgalagadi South at 39.5 percent respectively. The lowest poverty incidence was recorded in Sowa Town at 5.0 percent. Despite President Ian Khama’s introduction of one of his flagship programmes of Poverty Eradication, it seems progress has been very slow as figures form the survey show that reduction in the number of persons living the poverty datum line has been very minimal. In the previous survey, which was carried out during the 2009/2010 period when Khama assumed presidency, there were 362, 116 persons living below the poverty datum line and the number has slightly decreased to 337, 410. People living below the poverty datum line survive on a dollar ($) a day which is used to measure extreme poverty through the adjustment of the local currency, using the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) exchange rate. PPP is said to be computed based on the results of the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme (ICP).
The World Bank dollar a day poverty line was adjusted to $1.90 on the basis of the 2011 ICP, upgraded from $1.25. The recent study shows that the percentage of population living below PPP one dollar a day ($1.90) has decreased from 6.4 percent in 2009/10 to 5.8 percent in 2015/16 at national level. In terms of gender disparities, it has been observed that overall there is a higher percentage of female headed poor households than those that are male headed. Nationally, it is reported that 55 percent of poor households are female led while 45 percent are male headed which indicates that poverty incidence is higher among female headed households. Statistician General Anna Majelantle said the primary objective of the survey was to provide a comprehensive set of indicators for labour market and poverty. She emphasised that eradication of extreme poverty continues to be a priority area both for the country and at the international level and referenced to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which emphasizes having “no poverty” and “having decent work and economic growth”. Majelantle said the study was conducted with the assistance of organisations such as the World Bank, which provided technical support through its partnership with the government of Botswana. “The bank assisted in areas of systems and questionnaire development and training,” she said, adding that SB is also working to start a programme to conduct employment and poverty surveys on a quarterly basis which should serve the needs of stakeholders with frequent information.