A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Africa’s future? Botswana’s growth with hunger – Al Jazeera English

In News on May 8, 2012 at 09:23

Africa’s future? Botswana’s growth with hunger –

While the global economy struggles with its economic malaise, Africa’s resource rich economies continue to grow. In some regards, Botswana is a shining example of successful resource-financed development. It has carefully husbanded a valuable natural resource, diamonds, and invested the proceeds in infrastructure development and education. Botswana’s literacy rate of 86 per cent is one of the highest in the world, and its road and hospital infrastructure is admirable. Its government is ranked as one of the least corrupt by Transparency International, it exports high quality, grass-fed beef and its high-end eco-tourism business is booming.

Yet Botswana imports 90 per cent of its food, which has made it particularly vulnerable to rising global food prices. In 2011, global food prices were the highest on average at any time since they began to be systematically recorded in 1990. Following a slight decline, prices are now rising again and are higher than they were in 2008, when they resulted in a good deal of social unrest.

While a middle-income country, Botswana is vulnerable to global food price fluctuations because it imports 90 per cent of its food [William G Moseley/Al Jazeera]

Despite consistent growth, the problem is that Botswana also has one of the most inequitable income distributions in the world, second only to Namibia. As such, while Botswana is a prosperous middle income country, the median per capita household income in the capital city, Gaborone, is only $2 per day. With two-thirds of the city’s population spending nearly half its income on food, rising food prices present a particular problem. Recent surveys suggest that 63 per cent of households in the capital are severely food insecure, and 21 per cent of households in rural areas sometimes go for a day without eating.


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