Summit 2016: Ghanzi East District Council

Date: September 25, 2018
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‘There was no clear role clarity when the project was started and therefore the council was not in a position to fully support the project, we wish we could have engaged more as this is very important especially to the women’ E. Swartz – Councillor Ghanzi

Ghanzi District is a remote area almost 700km west of the capital city which is dominated by 3 marginalised tribes being Basarwa, Bakgalagadi and Bahero. The council serves a community with a population of 23,948 served in 10 settlements within the district. The majority of economic drivers are public servants and this fact has driven the council to come up with ways of improving livelihoods of the residents through government programmes and projects as the literacy rate as per the study conducted in 2010 showed the district to be the lowest. The evident housing units built, well progressing Poverty eradication projects, men coming out and voicing out gender issues, women being recognise as agents of change in the district are the characteristics noticed in the district.

The council became the first COE in 2009. And for the past 6 years it has been an uphill battle with the council. It is clear that there has not been much  support from the council on the implementation of gender mainstreaming. The latest score went from 75% in the previous year to 54% in 2015. The was one of the 1st 5 to join the FLOW project with a total of 20 women starting with the project but only 14 completing the whole process.

It has not been very clear what the stand of the council is regarding the entrepreneurship project. Though the council has been willing to release its employees to participate in other GL events it has not been the case with the entrepreneurship project. There has been limited ownership and according to the local councillor and the chairperson of the BALA women commissioner Elizabeth Swart. This she says was mainly due to lack of understanding of the project by the council and what their role is. The Gender focal person or any other person has not been attending the trainings due to other work commitments. The women were also interviewed and showed that they have not had an opportunity to interact with the council except during phase three when they were part of the people presenting on the service available locally for the women.

When the project commenced in 2013, the council played an important in identifying the women to join the project. This was done through the Social and Community Development Department. The organising of the participants to attend the training has been mostly left to Gender Links office. They organised the women to attend the trainings.

Despite the above the council always made sure that a venue was available to the women. They always ensured that other logistics such as catering were available during the training. As already stated the council staff did not attend the workshops. Not much training and mentorship has taken place except for the few women who the council has helped with equipment for their projects.

Some of the women have been hired by the council on a temporary basis under the drought relief program. As it is all over Botswana councils are not responsible for land allocation but where possible they do social enquiry reports recommending the women for land allocation at the Land Board.

The council is said to not  have played much of a role in that aspect and the women have to fend for themselves in trying to secure funding. The council has managed to assist some of the women to start up their businesses.

Changes in the council as a result of the programme is that more supportive attitude towards ending GBV in their locality as a result of the project. More supportive attitudes towards women’s economic empowerment as a result of the project. Strengthening of the council’s gender action plan as a result of the project

There is need to consult with the council before starting any work for ownership purposes and also to establish the role of the council in supporting the women. In future there is need to engage with the newly selected GFP so that they can support the women going forward.

During an interview the councillor felt there was still a lot to be done in terms of GBV as the area has high incidence of GBV. They felt they needed support from Gender Links going further not only in GBV matters but also with empowering the Gender Committee.