|Commenced in January 2007||Frequency: Monthly||Edition: International||Paper Count: 3|
This paper argues nation-building theories that prioritize democratic governance best explain the successful postindependence development of Botswana. Three main competing schools of thought exist regarding the sequencing of policies that should occur to re-build weakened or failed states. The first posits that economic development should receive foremost attention, while democratization and a binding sense of nationalism can wait. A second group of experts identified constructing a sense of nationalism among a populace is necessary first, so that the state receives popular legitimacy and obedience that are prerequisites for development. Botswana, though, transitioned into a multi-party democracy and prosperous open economy due to the utilization of traditional democratic structures, enlightened and accountable leadership, and an educated technocratic civil service. With these political foundations already in place when the discovery of diamonds occurred, the resulting revenues were spent wisely on projects that grew the economy, improved basic living standards, and attracted foreign investment. Thus democratization preceded, and therefore provided an accountable basis for, economic development that might otherwise have been squandered by greedy and isolated elites to the detriment of the greater population. Botswana was one of the poorest nations in the world at the time of its independence in 1966, with little infrastructure, a dependence on apartheid South Africa for trade, and a largely subsistence economy. Over the next thirty years, though, its economy grew the fastest of any nation in the world. The transparent and judicious use of diamond returns is only a partial explanation, as the government also pursued economic diversification, mass education, and rural development in response to public needs. As nation-building has become a project undertaken by nations and multilateral agencies such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Botswana may provide best practices that others should follow in attempting to reconstruct economically and politically unstable states.
Although many factors play a significant role in agricultural production and productivity, the importance of soil fertility cannot be underestimated. The extent to which small farmers are able to manage the fertility of their farmlands is crucial in agricultural development particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This paper assesses the nutrient status of selected farmers’ fields in relation to how government policy addresses the allocation of and access to agricultural inputs (e.g. chemical fertilizers) in a unique social-ecological environment of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. It also analyses small farmers and soil scientists’ perceptions about the political economy of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) in the area. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used to elicit quantitative and qualitative information from 228 farmers and 9 soil researchers through the use of interview schedules and questionnaires, respectively. Knowledge validation workshops and focus group discussions (FGDs) were also used to collect qualitative data from farmers. Thirty-three composite soil samples were collected from 30 farmers’ plots in three farming communities of Makalamabedi, Nokaneng and Mohembo for laboratory analysis. While meeting points exist, farmers and scientists have divergent perspectives on soil fertility management. Laboratory analysis carried out shows that most soils in the wetland and the adjoining dry-land/upland surroundings are low in essential nutrients as well as in cation exchange capacity (CEC). Although results suggest the identification and use of appropriate inorganic fertilizers, the low CEC is an indication that holistic cultural practices, which are beyond mere chemical fertilizations, are critical and more desirable for improved soil health and sustainable livelihoods in the area. Farmers’ age (t= -0.728; p≤0.10); their perceptions about the political economy (t = -0.485; p≤0.01) of ISFM; and their preference for the use of local knowledge in soil fertility management (t = -10.254; p≤0.01) had a significant relationship with how they perceived their involvement in the implementation of ISFM.