Botswana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, to address this challenge, WUSC‘s program has focused on strengthening national-level NGOs to provide more inclusive, improved and increased HIV and AIDS services, to increase the integration of equality between women and men and to engage in policy dialogue for the benefit of disadvantaged or marginalized communities. WUSC has been working in Botswana since 1980, strengthening the capacity of local organizations, government departments as well as individuals in their efforts to contribute more effectively to the development of the country and the social welfare of the population.
Botswana has grown from one of the poorest countries in the world at independence in 1966 to an upper middle income country. Despite this growth, Botswana has struggled to develop sufficient human resource capacity to meet the needs of an economically growing country. This is where WUSC has had an impact. Since 1980, our programming has been directed towards developing a sustainable trained work force for the country. In 1982, WUSC helped establish the University of Botswana (UB) so the country could begin to train its own engineers, managers and leaders. Where there were gaps in degree programs that UB couldn’t offer, WUSC managed students who came to Canada to complete their university and college education and return to positions of influence in government, civil society and the private sector. Most recently, WUSC has been involved in the design and foundation of Botswana’s second university, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology.
Unfortunately, the biggest single challenge to Botswana’s human resource development has been the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS. WUSC has responded by working with many of the nascent civil society organizations to support the government’s response and to give a strong voice for the rights of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. This has resulted in a coordinated approach to caring for people living with the virus and keeping them, whenever possible, in the workforce contributing to the country’s development.
By supporting the establishment of Botswana’s two universities, helping to train over 1500 individuals and building the capacity of over 30 government, non-governmental and private sector organizations, WUSC has contributed significantly to make Botswana what it is today.
Botswana is one of the few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where the government has the means to provide universal services - in education and health in particular – to almost the entire population. While this is a generally a positive thing, it does create a form of dependency on the government that hinders the growth and support of civil society organizations. It is important for NGOs to be responsive to the needs of their district level members in order to maintain relevance and address the inevitable gaps left by the government response.
The response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Botswana has been impressive, but with many different agencies working through different donors, there was too much duplication. WUSC is ensuring that its work remains relevant and appropriate by working closely with the National Aids Coordinating Agency and other national level partnership groups. In partnership with other local and international organizations, WUSC helps strengthen the technical competence and organizational capacity of Botswana’s national non-governmental organizations and networks to improve the delivery of high quality HIV/AIDS services.
The training of human resources either through overseas scholarships or in-country university and college programs is an expensive but necessary process for a developing country. The key to success is ensuring that the trained students are meeting the labour market needs in Botswana. WUSC is looking at ways of supporting the new Human Resource Development Council in Botswana to better track employment statistics for graduated government-sponsored students.