wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05GABORONE767
2005-06-06 05:39:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Gaborone
Cable title:  

REVIEWING BOTSWANA'S ELIGIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  KHIV  BC  AGRIC  HIV  AIDS  SADC 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GABORONE 000767 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

STATE FOR AF/S - PLS PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KHIV BC AGRIC HIV AIDS SADC
SUBJECT: REVIEWING BOTSWANA'S ELIGIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
ASSISTANCE: WPF CONFERS ON REGIONAL FOOD SECURITY AND THE
HIV/AIDS CRISIS

REF: GABORONE 00745

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GABORONE 000767

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

STATE FOR AF/S - PLS PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KHIV BC AGRIC HIV AIDS SADC
SUBJECT: REVIEWING BOTSWANA'S ELIGIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
ASSISTANCE: WPF CONFERS ON REGIONAL FOOD SECURITY AND THE
HIV/AIDS CRISIS

REF: GABORONE 00745


1. (U) Summary: In a May 30 meeting at the UNDP Resident
Representative's office in Gaborone, Ambassador Huggins and
visiting World Food Program's chief James Morris reviewed
Botswana's need for development assistance in light of the
inroads made by the HIV/AIDS crisis, and agreed that despite
the country's middle-income status, development assistance
was needed. Also discussed were the strains on the region's
food security situation, with Zimbabwe's critical shortages
having ripple effects throughout the region. Strategies to
combat HIV/AIDS were compared. End Summary.


2. (U) On May 30, Ambassador Huggins met with James Morris
of the World Food Program (WFP), who is also the UN's
Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, and
currently touring the region. Also present were Bjoern
Forde, UNDP's ResRep in Gaborone, Robert Opp, WFP and Mike
Sackett, Regional Director for Southern Africa, as well as
Samuel Nyambi, of UNDP's Pretoria-based regional service
center. Pol/EconOff took notes.


3. (U) The discussion commenced with Morris saluting
Ambassador Huggins' leadership in combating the HIV/AIDS
crisis in Botswana, and congratulating the US mission on its
successful USD 40 million PEPFAR funding rollout, recognized
regionally as a model program. Ambassador Huggins responded
by pointing out that in Botswana, functional national
coordinating mechanisms and cooperative international
partners exist. The link between nutrition and stemming
HIV/AIDS was discussed. Morris noted that Botswana had
implemented a highly successful school feeding program,
UNICEF - sponsored from 1966-96, and now institutionalized
through a GOB-funded school lunch program.

--------------
Regional Food Security Issues
--------------


4. (U) The plight of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)
in the region posed a challenge for the President's
Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for WFP, and for
regional cooperation. PEPFAR, while supporting ARV therapy,

does not address nutrition directly in combating the
pandemic. While Namibia and Botswana graduated from food aid
in the mid-9180s, the staggering numbers of OVCs have
implications for the resumption of food assistance in those
countries. In Botswana alone, although there are
approximately 47,000 registered OVCs, the estimates are
anywhere from 80,000 to 110,000 total at risk. Morris asked
whether mechanisms might exist in Botswana to carry out
assistance programs, and UNDP's Forde suggested the Botswana
Red Cross as a potential organization. Ambassador Huggins
recommended regional cooperation as essential in both this
aspect of mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, as well as
stronger regional integration generally in fighting
HIV/AIDS. Apart from the `Corridors of Hope' project, which
is moribund at the moment, there is little else to point to
on the regional level. Morris suggested that USAID Director
Natsios would be interested in pursuing regional initiatives
for food relief.

--------------
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
--------------


5. (U) Ambassador Huggins brought forward the topic of
reviewing Botswana's eligibility for development assistance.
Botswana, often cited as a model of sound fiscal management,
financial probity, and having achieved middle-income country
status, is effectively punished for these attainments,
having qualified itself out of development assistance.
Where, asked Ambassador Huggins, is the reward? In a recent
conversation with GOB's Minister of Finance the latter
stated that while Botswana attained middle-income status in
the mid-1990s, the country still needs developmental
assistance. The Minister commented, "You left us in the
middle of the stream, and the currents of HIV/AIDS are now
carrying us backwards." Other high-ranking government
officials, including the President, have publicly worried
out loud about Botswana's budget shortfalls. The recent
devaluation of the Pula (reftel) is one response to the drop
in dollar-denominated mineral revenues, but the trailblazing
policy of free ARV therapy rollout to all citizens that need
it, is eating up government surpluses, and stalling planned
development projects. The country at present has 22 months
of import cover - less than the amount it had two years ago
-- but still the reserves are a source of great national
pride. Botswana would be deeply reluctant, Ambassador
Huggins stated, and Morris concurred, to deplete its foreign
exchange reserves in order to qualify for international
financial institutions' assistance. To reduce Botswana to
the hand-out status of so many nations on the continent,
would assault the national image, wipe out the
exceptionality of Botswana, and, ultimately, punish the GOB
for its good management. Morris agreed that these were
compelling arguments to bring to higher levels for policy
dialogue.

-------------- --------------
Leadership in Combating HIV/AIDS: `A Mile Wide; An Inch
Deep'
-------------- --------------


6. (SBU) UNDP's Bjorn Forde observed that there is
leadership from the top in Botswana in combating HIV/AIDS,
but Ambassador Huggins added, "Botswana's commitment below
the Presidential level is a mile wide, and an inch deep."
Illustrative of this remark is the slow decision-making
process within Botswana's bureaucracy. While funding for an
increase in the numbers of doctors was provided by the USG,
the GOB took two years to advertise the positions. UNDP's
Bjorn Forde observed that he and Ambassador Huggins during
their tenure in Botswana have worked as a team to promote
routine testing for HIV/AIDS. While routine testing was
instituted January 2004, it took 21 months for the GOB to
reach that decision. With debate within the GOB whether it
can afford in the long-term to continue to provide free
ARVS, a sliding scale for payment or a means test might be
introduced, moving away from total subsidies. Post feels
that this could be an area where assistance from the IBRD
might have a role to play.

--------------
Reconstructing Gender Personalities
--------------


7. (U) Morris asked about other dimensions of the AIDS
epidemic: what was the status of women in Botswana?
Although a recent Marital Powers Act was passed by
parliament that guaranteed women rights as inheritors, in
practice women, especially the poor and those living in
rural areas, were exploited. Intergenerational sex with
older men and younger women is a major cause of HIV/AIDS
infection. The GOB, however, is reluctant to make this a
focus, let alone tackle it head-on. Gender personalities
would have to be deconstructed and reassembled: a challenge
beyond government.

--------------
. . . And, Finally, Zimbabwe
--------------


8. (SBU) Morris stated he would visit Zimbabwe in the coming
week, to discuss food assistance with the GOZ. Because food
would have to be mobilized so late into the impending food
insecurity crisis, Morris said, I have a sense we're going
to be in a heck of a mess. Three weeks ago, he stated, the
GOZ still assured the world no food assistance was required.
That has changed but mobilizing needed food shipments would
be difficult. Morris said he would have to obtain GOZ
permission for a quick assessment of the needs - one was
started some months ago but halted on GOZ order. WFP
assessment is that at least several hundred thousand tons of
food will be needed. The bright spot was that RSA's grain
surpluses were affordable, and nearby. Mechanisms of
distribution would be crucial, such as Zimbabwe' Grain
Marketing Board. Morris said early GOZ indications were
that NGO distribution would be acceptable. Even if the MDC
would be allowed to distribute food, it would not have the
capacity, according to Morris.


9. (U) Discussion then turned on the strains the Zimbabwe
crisis has on Botswana's society and economy. To repatriate
border jumpers (there were 36,000 returned Zimbabweans in
2004) is costing Botswana huge amounts of money. The number
of illegal Zimbabweans employed in the country is by its
nature not statistically known, but has a major impact.


10. (U) Comment: WFP's James Morris agreed that the status
of Botswana as ineligible for development assistance should
be reviewed. The combination of factors- dwindling
revenues, expanding costs due to combating HIV/AIDS -- has
stalled many development projects outlined in Botswana's
Ninth National Development Plan. Regional policy dialogues
and regionally evolved strategies are essential to fight the
disease and to provide food security. End comment

HUGGINS