National Poverty Eradication Policy and MPI
The Government of Botswana has had the desire to achieve a poverty and inequality free nation. This has been a policy objective since independence in 1966 and has therefore been mainstreamed in all its vision documents and national development plans including Vision 2016 and Vision 2036 and all the eleven national development plans. The policy objective required the achievement of rapid, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth imbedded in social justice, economic independence, and sustainable economic development. In furtherance of this policy objective, the Government with the support of the United Nations Development Programme from 20-21 March 2018 convened an international conference on the theme: “Leave No One Behind: The Fight Against Poverty, Exclusion and Inequality”. One of the outcomes of the conference was the articulation of a National Poverty Eradication Policy (NPEP) and Implementation Plan and developing a National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), both of which were overseen by the Office of the President with the support of the United Nations Development Programme. The NPEP has the long-term vision of institutionalising a moral, tolerant, and inclusive society that provides opportunities for all Batswana. It is anchored within the Human and Social Upliftment Pillar of Vision 2036 with a primary objective of eradicating extreme income poverty and reducing the proportion of those living below the national poverty datum line.
The NPEP therefore, aims to achieve the outcomes of having no Batswana living in extreme poverty and below the national poverty datum line by 2036. The policy seeks to increase the number of beneficiaries graduating from the national poverty eradication programmes, with a development impact of zero extreme poverty within and across all of Botswana and amongst all its citizens. The leave no one behind principle of the 2030 Agenda is central and an integral part of the NPEP. It is for this reason that a policy decision was made for the country to adopt a multidimensional approach to understand the multidimensional nature of poverty in Botswana and appropriately adopt policies that will aim at proper targeting and addressing the needs of the poor in Botswana. The multidimensional measures to addressing poverty are to be complemented by the already existing income and consumption approaches.
To support the implementation of the NPEP, the UNDP is supporting the Government of Botswana through the Office of President to develop a National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). To this end, a pilot National MPI will be implemented after which a nationwide rollout will be expected to be undertaken. In addition, effort is being made to support the gathering of disaggregated data by age, sex, and geographic location to support the implementation of the NPEP and put in place policies that will target and address the needs of the poor. The UNDP is also supporting the Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to implement the Social Protection Recovery Plan, which is an integral part of the NPEP.
A critical lesson that has been learned in the implementation of interventions targeting the poor and most vulnerable groups is that it is not sufficient to use one method (like the income or consumption) to identify the poor but quite critical to use a multidimensional poverty approach, which can be complemented with the income, consumption and other poverty targeting and alleviation approaches. This is the approach that has been adopted by the Government of Botswana with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, which is critical for eradicating extreme income poverty and addressing the multiple deprivations that the poor are faced with in life.