Remarks by Ambassador JAN SADEK
Head of Delegation of the European Union
to the Republic of Botswana
18 March 2021
Launch of a project on “Support to the Commodity-Based Trade and livestock traceability in Botswana”
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to be here to represent the European Union and its Member States – Team Europe as we call ourselves – at this Launch of our project on “Support to the Commodity-Based Trade and livestock traceability in Botswana”. The project is part of Team Europe’s support to the COVID-19 response of the Government of Botswana.
Firstly, before I give my remarks, let me just tell you how nice it is to take part in this ceremony, and to be among people again, it does not happen everyday, now that the new normal is to meet online on screens and laptops. Let’s hope that next time we get together, even more guests can join and we can speak without the masks.
I will describe our support and the project, but let me start by looking back at a very difficult year – for all of us and for the entire world. No country has been spared in this pandemic – health wise as well as economically. Let me take the opportunity to commend the Government of Botswana for having managed the pandemic very well up to now and for keeping all of us safe!
Sadly many lives have been lost also here – my condolences to the Government – and we are still struggling, both in Botswana and in Europe. As the EU, we are convinced that we can overcome this tragedy only through a global and coordinated response and with a sincere spirit of solidarity.
This is why the EU and its Member States decided one year ago to combat the pandemic through international cooperation and joint global action. The truth is, no one will be safe until everyone is safe. Let me start by a few examples of our global and national Botswana response.
The EU and its MS took the initiative to the global vaccination scheme, COVAX, and we are the largest donors, having contributed with more than EUR 2.2 billion. The COVAX mechanism has started to deliver in Africa, and will ship at least 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to lower income countries by the end of 2021.
Botswana has financed its own vaccine deliveries within COVAX, and we were glad to see that you should receive your first batch next week. Good luck with the vaccination campaign!
The EU has also mobilized EUR 40 billion to supporting national health systems, protect and save lives, and counter the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. In Botswana this has resulted in some fresh resources to support the Government’s response COVID response and we have also redirected some of the ongoing programmes.
We have donated BWP 1.6 million in PPEs and medical supplies and provided BWP 5.7 million in grants to support the victims of gender-based and domestic violence and protect the rights of marginalized groups. We have also front-loaded the disbursement of BWP 27 million to the treasury of Botswana from our TVET Budget Support programme.
More recently, we have mobilised additional humanitarian assistance, worth BWP 26 million through the WHO and IFRC to strengthen the Country’s health system and to provide food assistance to vulnerable communities. As we meet here today, IFRC is launching an EU funded campaign in Letlhakane, with cash deliveries to vulnerable parts of the population.
In addition to necessary support to the health emergency, we have seen it equally important to support the socio-economic recovery, especially for the sectors and categories of the population most affected by the economic fallout.
And, Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where the project that we are launching today comes into the picture.
It is my hope and conviction that the project, “Commodity Based Trade and Livestock Traceability in Botswana”, will go a long way in mitigating the disastrous effects of the pandemic on vulnerable rural communities and cattle farmers living in the north of the country as well as in reducing the risks posed to wildlife conservation in the region.
As you know, traditional livestock agriculture and tourism are the most important industries in the North-Western districts of Botswana, in terms of livelihoods and formal employment. The districts are designated as “red zones” in relation to the Foot and Mouth Disease. Proximity and range-overlap between domestic livestock and wildlife excludes cattle farmers from access to lucrative domestic and international markets, affecting negatively the income of small farmers.
The region-wide economic insecurity due to the increase of Food and Mouth Disease outbreaks in the past two decades has become significantly greater in the current COVID- 19 pandemic. The entire tourism industry – which is the main economic driver of the region – has collapsed. Local economies, small enterprises, and especially vulnerable households in these areas are being adversely affected.
Commodity Based Trade (CBT), as you know, focuses on safe production and processing methods rather than the disease status of the region approach. By implementing the CBT approach, the programme we are launching will facilitate greater viability of the regional beef value-chain, wildlife-livestock coexistence, biodiversity conservation, and rural development without compromising important biosafety measures needed for Food and Mouth Disease control.
It is expected that new market opportunities will be created for the red zones beef in Ngamiland, thus contributing to higher prices and revenues, reducing poverty and indirectly mitigating human-wildlife conflicts.
The programme will indirectly support the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan of the Government, which seeks to increase food production, especially for products in which Botswana has a comparative advantage, such as beef.
I am also happy to conclude that our CBT programme is closely aligned to another Conservation International-led project, funded by the French Government, under AFD, Agence Française de Développement, the French Developmemt Agency. It is called ‘Pro-Nature Enterprises for the Peoples of Southern Africa’. This regional project focuses on supporting community enterprises and breaking the cycle of over-exploitation of resources and degradation of ecosystems in Southern Africa including the Habu and Eretsha communities in Botswana – the same ones as for the EU project. It aims at ensuring the restauration of grazing land, wildlife-livestock coexistence and the development of enterprises in the beef value chain.
By focusing on the same communities and supporting a quality and environmentally responsible beef value chain from grazing to commercialization, the AFD and EU projects will create synergies and have a better impact.
Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank Conservation International, represented her by Director Ruud Jansen and their partners Communities Living among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS Botswana) and Wild Entrust Africa for taking up this challenge and I wish them all the success in the implementation of this important project.
I hope that we will all have the chance to visit the programme as soon as the conditions will allow and having the opportunity to interact with the targeted communities.
Let me conclude by expressing my great satisfaction in being able to assist the Government of Botswana with this project, which we are sure will make a difference in the lives of many people in these difficult times!
You can continue counting on the EU and Team Europe in our long standing partnership and solidarity with Botswana.
I thank you for your attention.