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Document Abstract
Published: 2015

A political economy analysis of social protection programmes in Botswana

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Certain groups within society such as children, older persons and the physically challenged are more vulnerable to poverty, lack of access to social amenities, poor health and poor nutrition compared with the rest of the citizens. Despite being an upper middle-income country, Botswana is not an exception to this problem. While the country’s development indicators have continued to rise, owing to the discovery of minerals in the 1970s, Botswana still experiences development challenges such as poverty, unemployment and income inequality. Consequently, the government has put in place a nationwide self-funded Social Protection (SP) regime to address these challenges.
 
This study seeks to establish whether socio-economic, historical, political and institutional factors and actors support the drive or resistance to the SP policy and programmes, and whether this has any implications on its sustainability. A mixed data-collection approach sampled 200 actors, both state and non-state, to represent the general views of all involved. A political economy (PE) analysis was then carried out to establish the distribution and contestation of power and resources among the various groups and within different contexts.

The study found out that policy-making for social protection in Botswana is carried out in several arenas, both at community and national levels, and involves a wide range of actors including government ministries and departments, political parties, civil society and others. Further, that SP is not a political tool but rather that its provision is borne of social contract obligations. The SP policy-making process is done under the age-old Tswana democracy tenet of consensus seeking (therisanyo) as well as the principles of social justice as outlined in the country’s long-term vision plan (Vision 2016).

Presently, the government has declared its commitment to continue funding SP programmes, thus, guaranteeing its sustainability. However, given current revenue challenges, the implementation of the policy cannot be universal; thus, beneficiaries of SP programmes will have to be selected based on a means-testing evaluation.
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