Botswana: Foundation Helps

Gaborone — Development of a solid health infrastructure and mobilising communities for participation has assisted Botswana in its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.

Speaking Wednesday in an interview on CNN International's One World With Zain Asher programme, Dr Masisi said Botswana would have struggled without such a foundation.

"We developed such capacity by mobilising the population to enroll emotionally into this and structures were put in place to distribute, provide psycho-social support and counseling, enrolling for mitigation efforts. It is multilayered- it is at family, community, sub-district and national levels. We are determined to carry on the strength of our past experience with HIV/AIDS," Dr Masisi said.

It was revealed that while Botswana had procured enough vaccines to inoculate its entire adult population, delivery had been minimal owing to among other factors, the COVID-19 crisis in India, home to the biggest vaccine manufacturers.

Expressing sympathy with India, Dr Masisi said it was understandable that the country would look inward with its vaccine supplies.

He said Botswana was sourcing vaccines from various suppliers in different countries.

On tourism, the President said with the sector being one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, government had instituted various mitigation interventions.

They included provision of wage subsidy and industry support loans to help cushion businesses and get them back on their feet, he said.

President Masisi said broad-based public health interventions geared at yielding a safe and healthy Botswana for international tourists to visit had been introduced.

That would in the long term assist in resuscitating the tourism sector, he said.

Turning to human-wildlife conflict, particularly with regard to elephants, Dr Masisi said Botswana had the world's highest concentration of the species owing to successful conservation methods pursued over the years.

However, the results often led to humans suffering from injury and death through contact with elephants, he pointed out.

The President stated that government had the responsibility to carefully manage the situation and protect lives and livelihoods hence the allowing of elephant hunting.

Probed on claims of oil drilling planned for the Okavango area, Dr Masisi said Botswana always acted from the premise of protecting the environment and therefore did not allow fracking.

The President said while Botswana allowed mineral exploration and exploitation, the country did not compromise the quality of the environment, particularly in a sensitive and frail ecosystem such as the Okavango Delta and its basin.

On regional security, Dr Masisi, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security chairperson said the recent terrorism insurgency in northern Mozambique posed an ominous threat to the region as a whole.

He said SADC member states had been resolute in their engagement with Mozambique and each other to deal with the insurgency.

A summit would be held soon to address the challenge, he disclosed.

Source : BOPA

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