Challenges in development in Ngamiland, Botswana

Case Study YWCA N.W.

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2004

39 Pages


Table of content




IV.A Stakeholder Survey
IV. B Membership Survey



Annex One Membership Questionnaire
Annex Two Stakeholder Questionnaire
Annex Three Tabulation Membership Questionnaire
Annex Four Tabulation Stakeholder Questionnaire


List of Tables

Table One: YWCA North West Projects

Table Two Stakeholders Sample

Table Three Stakeholder Statements

Table Four Membership Sample

Table Five Member Statements on Change and Comments

I. Introduction

Despite the praise Botswana receives for its exceptional achievements since independence in 1966 in terms of good governance, economic growth, sound economic management and democratic principles[1] ; citizens are still hard hit by poverty in rural areas, in addition to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is taking its toll on the nation as a whole. By taking a closer look at national statistics, Botswana has been rated 125th on the Human Development Index (HDI) - of previous 97th in only 1997 - Botswana challenges its own sky rocketing success story today more than ever.

The country is widely known for its mineral deposits, vast diamond exploitation accounting for about a third of Gross Domestic Product, 70% of export earnings and 55% of government revenue.[2] Mining continues to help the country with an estimated 1.6 million citizens, sized slightly larger than France not only establish a comparatively outstanding infrastructure including roads and services as hospitals and schools in Sub Saharan Africa, but to head as a viable economy in the region.[3] Bordering Namibia in the west and north, Zimbabwe in the east and South Africa in the South, with only a ferry border to Zambia at Kazungula, Botswana is landlocked.

The political leadership around President Festus Mogae, has realized the challenges: an economic diversification program away from mineral dependency and the commitment to fight HIV/AIDS.

Forty-seven percent of Batswana, citizens of Botswana, are living under the Poverty datum line, and almost 40% of the population is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Deserted rural areas indicate an alarming rate in regards to the rural urban migration and thus a loss of traditional cultural lifestyles at the same time overcrowded unemployed stricken urban areas.[4] [5]

Applying this rather realistic perspective to Botswana leads to the question of sustainable development supported by governments as well as non-governmental organizations. The Young Women Christian Association of Ngamiland (YWCA) in the North West of the country will act as a case to determine the challenges of development on the grass roots level.

Prior, the more specific tribal set up, history and other relevant factors of Ngamiland region have to be considered. The earliest inhabitants of the Delta were the red people (also known as Bushmen or Basarwa); the Bakgalagadi also migrated from the South several centuries ago. In the 18th century the Bayei and Bambukushu slowly moved into the area from South West Zambia, the Caprivi Strip and the Kwando - Linyanti Rivers.

The Batawana arrived at around 1800 after a break up of the Bamangwato tribe. Further the arrival of the Maherero including the Mabanderu settled in Ngamiland at around 1905, as a direct result of the German “campaign of extinction” in South West Africa (Namibia), to be mentioned. A second wave of Bambukushu fled their native land today Angola during the Civil War starting in 1975. Both groups were granted permission to settle and received citizenship respectively from the Botswana Government.[6]

Politically the country has been practically ruled since independence by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), who only faces a marginal opposition. This de facto one party system provided all three presidents since independence. Botswana’s kgotla system - the meeting point for the commoners to meet and discuss with their royal leaders, has acted as participatory tool pre independence and still runs concurrent to the democratic set up based on the British Executive & Legislative systems. It has been argued that this system supports the democratic principals more efficiently than in most other African culture settings.[7]

The Batswana a characterized to represent an elaborate discussion style in their social lives. Not only in the described kgotla ’s, but also in other formal or non-formal meetings it can be observed how the majority are keen to have “their say”. This has not been described as such, but there is a contributing factor of ‘hindered decision thru verbal oriented rather than action oriented procedures’ to be considered in later stages of this work.

II. Methodology and Objectives

The study is separated into three parts, of which part one gives an introduction to the socio, political, economic and tribal set up of Botswana and its citizens in the context as a Southern African Transformation country. The YWCA North West is thereafter integrated into this general framework. Part two focuses on the evaluation of the findings of a survey conducted amongst members and stakeholders of YWCA North West, in which the author identifies the current situation of the association, including correlations that affect the workings of this NGO, are identified. In part three a dialectic symbiosis of part one and two is aimed to uncover a new vision for the YWCA North West and other local NGO’s. The vision will be accompanied by an action- orientated proposal to achieve this vision.

The objective of this paper is to systematically assess the current situation of a specific development agency (YWCA N.W.), to evaluate findings from a survey conducted amongst members and stakeholders, and to finally recommend ways to holistically improve development efforts in Botswana especially those of the YWCA N.W.

The paper is based on current references including NDP 9, Vision 2016, tailor made surveys membership and stakeholders and personnel observations in the capacity of a Regional Coordinator of the YWCA North-West.

III. YWCA, a Development Agency

The author had the opportunity to work at the YWCA North West as a development worker of Skillshare International, a UK based development agency, as Regional Coordinator. This insight allows the author to dissect the organization he has worked with in the period from 2002 until 2004.

YWCA Botswana was founded in 1962, the subdivision of the association into five areas North West, North East, North Central, South Central and South was established, as branches of the association opened in their respective areas. The North West Region started operating in 1968. Within the region several clubs commenced, in which the membership of women older than eighteen years of age could decide on the programs and projects they would like to embark on. Clubs considered to be active by the association are situated in Shakawe, Sehitwa, Gumare, Maun and Shorobe.[8]

It is estimated that the region held a membership count of about 500 or more at one time. During time of research a total of approximately 150 members were involved at least once in a regional activity. It is unknown if all of these people were registered members. No active membership body cares for the matters of the association, neither on regional or club level and sporadically meet at best in small groups. Annual elections of a Regional Management Committee have been postponed for at least two years by the above. An emergency committee was elected in fall 2003 and managed to meet three times.

YWCA North West is running several projects, which will be outlined below in terms of project scope, number of beneficiaries, number of employees, status of project including self sufficiency and human resource capacity.

Table One: YWCA North West Projects

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Other projects that were envisaged in the Strategic Plan 2001-2004

include a hostel, a tourism-training centre and ECAW (Education Centre for Adolescent Women) none of which were implemented due to lack of capacity, lack of membership involvement and crisis. The described projects, which operate, have proven to maintain with very little or no outside funding (PACT being an exception). The projects are active due to the following main reasons:

1. The Employees of YWCA care for those project as their income generation, and are therefore interested in its survival.
2. External support from Skillshare International development workers in the last years has helped the day-to-day management of all projects.
3. The projects are needed as servicing the community in a specific field. The projects address a key niche in the community.
4. The projects were envisaged and implemented by the local employees and membership at the time. This indicates a sense of ownership for those projects.

As described earlier in Table One, the projects are engaging a workforce and supporting the community with their respective services. The YWCA directly employs locally and almost unexceptional female members of the community (Except Dressmaking Lecturer and Night Watchmen at Pulane). Further, the services that are provided support a number of people ranging from parents, students to workshop participants. This indicates the empowering factor of the YWCA North West, which could be improved further with more membership drive.

All running projects are, in a strict sense, commercial services. The fees charged are adjusted for low income brackets and are non profitable for the association. Other projects, which are based on volunteering, have had little impact so far.

As mentioned the association is linked to a national body, which has executive powers over the North West Region. The leadership of the National Committee and the National Office of the YWCA has only a marginal contact, knowledge and input into the North West activities. Efforts have been made to strengthen the relationship by centralizing the decision-making and its procedures.

The governance structures from club level up to the national Executive are not clear to the majority of members, staff and stakeholders. The Framework constitution for YWCA Botswana has not been circulated since its latest revision in 2001.

The author wishes to conclude this short introduction of the YWCA North West and continue with the findings of a representative survey conducted among the members of the North West Region and Key Stakeholders.

IV. Findings of Stakeholder and Membership Survey

The author generated and disseminated two questionnaires amongst members and stakeholders of YWCA North West in April and May 2004. The sample sizes were relatively small; six membership and six stakeholder questionnaires respectively, are representative of both sample groups[9]. The homogenous samples are purposive to their population (Members and Stakeholders).

The membership sample is stratified into older and younger membership. The participating members were chosen randomly, only with prejudice towards their active role as a member. The stakeholder questionnaire followed ditto as being stratified representing stakeholders that are strongly involved in YWCA North West in various sectors. The Survey, more so the sample size was constrained by time and resource factors. The degree of confidence for each sample is above 90% due to their selection criteria and representation on the subject.


[1] “An African Success Story: Botswana, by D. Acemoglu, S. Johnson, A. Robinson, CEPR Discussion Paper 3219, 2002

[2] National Development Plan 9 2003/04-2008/09, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, p. 203, Gaborone 2003


[4] National Development Plan 9 2003/04-2008/09, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, p. 16f., Gaborone 2003

[5] Map of Botswana modified by Jan Luedert, World Book on Apple, 2004

[6] Aspects of the recent History of Ngamiland, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with the Government of the Republic of Botswana, D.H. Potten, 1975

[7] “An African Success Story: Botswana, by D. Acemoglu, S. Johnson, A. Robinson, CEPR Discussion Paper 3219, p.12f.. 2002

[8] Administration Files, YWCA North West Region, Maun, 2004 Note by the Author: The term active here is misleading hence an active membership and governance body of the region is absent.

[9] Refer to: The questionnaires are attached as Annex One Membership questionnaire and Annex Two Stakeholder Questionnaire including Tabulations for closed questions

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Challenges in development in Ngamiland, Botswana
Case Study YWCA N.W.
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Jan Lüdert (Author), 2004, Challenges in development in Ngamiland, Botswana, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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