UN Development Chief Completes Visit to BotswanaJun 17, 2015
United Nations Development Chief Helen Clark wrapped up a 4 day official visit to Botswana today that highlighted the opportunities and challenges of the country's upper-middle income status.
Helen Clark said that being an upper-middle income country makes considerable domestic resources available for development. "But it doesn’t mean that development challenges go away," she said. "Developed and developing countries alike can never stand still, and must continue to strive for more progress and raise their ambition.”
Over the past 40 years, Botswana has had one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It also stands out as a country with good governance and successful macroeconomic and fiscal policies. Botswana is well known for its wildlife conservation which is critical for its growing tourism industry and for sustainable development, and for ensuring that its major diamond industry has been a benefit to the country and its citizens.
The country's progress has transformed living standards for many, with poverty rates declining over the past 40 years from 50% to around 19% today. Pockets of poverty remain, however, particularly in rural areas.
While in Botswana, Helen Clark traveled to Shorobe in Ngamiland where she participated in a traditional Botswana Kgotla, a meeting with local leaders and villagers, to discuss the development aspirations of the community and how to get greater inclusion in value chains in the region's tourism industry. She also met with local civil society organizations in Maun tackling issues of high HIV prevalence andpersistent violence against women. Botswana has some of the highest rates of HIV in the world, and two thirds of women report having experienced some form of gender violence.
“The Government of Botswana is well aware of the challenges and opportunities before the country," Helen Clark said. "UNDP looks forward to continuing its strong relationship with the Government, including on incorporating the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals in the national agenda."
While in Botswana, Helen Clark also opened the new UNDP-GEF office in Maun, and virtually in Kasane. For the next four years, these offices will house a project on finding sustainable land management solutions to ecosystem challenges, including those of rangeland degradation, and also promote sustainable rural livelihoods.
Helen Clark met with President Khama to discuss UNDP and Botswana’s partnership, and with senior ministers and officials, including the Minister of Local Government, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, and the Minister of Education. She also met prominent women leaders, UNDP staff, and development partners.
Helen Clark was in Botswana to attend the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. Speaking there, she said that the global agreements already reached or expected to be reached this year on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, sustainable development, and climate change provided a once in a generation opportunity to set transformational development agendas of benefit to Botswana and all other countries.