MINISTER KGAFELA SHARES BOTSWANA’S PROGRESS IN ATTAINING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AT THE ONGOING WUF 2020
10 Feb 2020
Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Honourable Mmusi Kgafela has commended the Abu Dhabi Government and the World Urban Forum Secretariat for a sterling job in successfully organising WUF 2020. Honourable Kgafela was speaking in a dialogue session ongoing 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
The Minister shared that Botswana is experiencing a rapid growth in urbanisation which is currently at 64% and is expected to reach 84% by 2050. “Our urbanisation is a product of rural –urban migration and reclassification of settlements. To effectively manage these developments, we have come up with strategies to proactively manage urbanisation so as to improve quality of life, foster inclusion, shared prosperity and build vibrant communities that take pride in their cultural heritage,” stated the Minister.
Hon. Kgafela said that Botswana has embraced sustainable development as its development approach, and is fully committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its principles, goals, targets and indicators. He further said that, Botswana has collaborated with development partners to strengthen coordination and domestication of global agendas.
He divulged that the National Roadmap for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Action Framework for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda were developed in 2018. “In addition, the National Framework for Sustainable Development and the Climate change policy are being developed. Our national Vision 2036 (2017-2036), and the current National Development Plan 11 (2017-2023) and the associated District and Urban Development Plans, are aligned to these global agendas and will drive urban and human settlements development in the medium to long term,” said Minister Kgafela.
The Minister further stated that promoting equal access to quality and sustainable basic services is top of the development agenda. He said that this is premised on the understanding that access to adequate housing and basic services is central to promoting dignified lives, equity and inclusion and reduction of poverty. “To this extent, Government consistently makes annual budgetary provisions for housing, particularly for the low income households and destitute persons. Various housing programmes targeting different income groups are also implemented. These have contributed significantly to slum prevention in Botswana,” he shared.
Notwithstanding these achievements he said, fourteen percent (14%) of households have housing deprivations which include overcrowding, substandard dwellings and inadequate sanitation. He further said that the Government has started the review of the National policy on Housing to ensure that it is better equipped to respond to urbanisation and growing demand for housing and basic services.
Honourable Kgafela revealed that the establishment of effective multi-level and multi-partnership governance mechanisms is central to the achievement of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. He said that these structures open opportunities for localised and culturally sensitive urban development models adding that Decentralization Policy in Botswana that is being developed is anticipated to result in greater efficiency in territorial planning and service delivery by the Local Government authorities. He said that there is however need to strengthen legal and financial mechanisms to support local and territorial Governments and enable them to approximately harness their potential.
He disclosed that Human settlements development in Botswana is guided by proactive spatial planning. “The Town and Country Planning Act (2013) makes provision for the orderly and progressive development of land in both urban and rural areas and for preservation and improvement of amenities. The Botswana Land Policy adopted in 2015 pronounced that the whole country be declared a planning area. So far, seven (7) districts and sub districts have been declared planning areas, and the remaining 15 districts and sub districts will be declared by the end of NDP11,” revealed the Minister.
Hon. Kgafela submitted that recently approved National Spatial Plan aims to influence physical development in order to promote equitable social development, vibrate economic growth and at the same time to maintain a sustainable environment. He said that this will constitute a national spatial reference framework, which will inspire and influence national, regional, district, urban and rural development plans and strategies adding that the plan is anticipated to break down sectoral silos and strengthen integrated planning and development.
He disclosed that planning in Botswana is grounded on participatory approaches that define us as Batswana. Furthermore he said structures are in place to ensure participation in the development process by the grassroots, civil society groups, private sector as well as ministries and other development partners. “Our planning process has always recognised the role of the kgotla system, a traditional and cultural platform presided by the traditional chiefs that encourages interaction, exchange of ideas and promotes social cohesion and a sense of belonging among inhabitants of a particular area. It also enables communities to sit together and discuss issues that affect them. This institution has played an immense role in bridging the social divide and socio- economic development,” said the Minister.
In closing the Minister emphasised that innovation and technology are the key to attaining sustainable development. He said that to effectively manage urbanisation, there is urgent need for dialogue and collective action to address issues of financing, capacity building, data management, monitoring and evaluation which constrain sustainable urban development in most countries. “As a country we value the technical support we have received from UNHABITAT in the generation of data for human settlement indicators, the implementation of the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, localising the New Urban Agenda. I am hopeful that more networks with other partners and agencies will be formed to accelerate the concrete actions on the New Urban Agenda in Botswana,” he concluded.