Academic journal article Journal of Social Development in Africa

Financing Children's Programmes Post-The Economic Downturn in Botswana

Academic journal article Journal of Social Development in Africa

Financing Children's Programmes Post-The Economic Downturn in Botswana

Article excerpt


This paper sought to investigate financing challenges that local government councils in Botswana were likely to face as a result of budget and expenditure cuts in 2012 and beyond, in the light of the economic downturn. Using the case study design, the paper gathered data fi'om officers involved with Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programme at the Kanye Administrative Authority and Moshupa Sub-District, Southern Botswana. In addition, interviews were conducted with officers of the National AIDS Coordinating Council (NACA) and the Director of the OVC programme. The major findings included evidence of (i) a decreasing but increasingly expensive caseload of orphans; (ii) widespread abuse of the OVC programme; and (Hi) decreasing budgetary support for social programmes. The budgetary cuts must be understood in the context of post-global economic downturn-induced expenditure cuts experienced in various other sectors of the country's economy. Although expenditure cuts have been a feature of public finance in Botswana since mid-2008 in the wake of the global recession, the subject has not received sufficient attention in the literature. Therefore, this study sought, in a modest way, to fill the glaring gap in this regard.


Children's programmes, economic downturn, expenditure cuts; Botswana, OVC.


Botswana is a resource-dependent economy, thus, diamonds provide a bulk of the national revenues (see Basdevant 2008). The sale of diamonds is sensitive to trends in the global market. Therefore, a slump in the demand for diamonds results in reduced sales, even zero sales as happened in November 2008 (Gaolathe 2009). The cumulative effect of reduced fiscal circumstances is budget deficits. Thus, during the 2008/09 financial year, the Botswana economy recorded its first budget deficit since the 1982 current account deficit. When this happened, the government took a deliberate decision to stimulate the economy through deficit financing. The deficit was financed through borrowings, both internally and externally, and a draw-down on external reserves. At the same time, the government was forced to effect expenditure management initiatives to rein in budget deficits. To illustrate, development spending and recurrent expenditure were reduced by 5 and 7 percent respectively during the 2009/10 financial year (GoB 2011a).

Mainly, the expenditure cuts disproportionately affected social (consumption) programmes such as the OVC programme as opposed to physical infrastructure initiatives such as dams and roads construction because the latter were deemed drivers of the economy. With specific reference to the OVC programme, the subject of the current study, these cuts exacerbated OVC's already precarious socioeconomic situation, particularly, access to food and schooling. In addition, when the Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo, presented the 2011/12 Budget Speech on 7 February 2011, he told parliament that the government intended to "adopt a black ink" in 2012 and beyond; that is, to balance the budget in 2012 and post budget surpluses afterward (Matambo 2011). These sentiments were repeated at a budget pitso (a public gathering forum) on 4 August 2011. To elaborate, when presenting the 2012/13 Budget Strategy Paper at the budget pitso, Minister Matambo stated thus, ' Central to the budget setting process is the overall commitment by Government to balance the budget by 2012/13 and to ensure medium to long run fiscal sustainability (MFDP 201 la: 11).' The same sentiments were repeated at the 2011 revenue pitso on 8 December of the same year (MFDP 2011b). Thus, the die had been cast and the all-important question was: 'How will social programmes such as the OVC programme fare in this new order?' Given the topicality of this question and lack of relevant research in this regard, this paper presents the results of a case study which investigated implementation challenges of the OVC programme under situations of fiscal stress in the two local authorities of Kanye and Moshupa. …

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