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Botswana'S Approach To Drought: How Disaster Relief Can Be Developmental


  • Siegle, Joe


Integrating disaster relief and development is not a new concept. Addressing underlying problems that have made a society susceptible to disaster have their origins dating back to the Indian Famine Relief Codes of the 1860's. Today, this is a popular notion among many people involved with emergency response. Still, there are relatively few instances where disaster relief has emphasized both long and short term needs - cases from which other countries and international organizations can learn. The problem of not having a successful example from which to model relief responses has often been cited as creating a serious barrier to implementing successful relief-development responses during recent famines (Cutler and Stephenson, RDI, Garvelink). The need for an African success story during drought to be used as a model is particularly acute given the vast human and material losses caused by famine on that continent up to the present time. This paper will attempt to address this need by examining the developmental gains achieved by Botswana in the course of meeting the emergency needs caused by the 1981-1986 drought. This paper, therefore, represents a case study of a successful drought relief program, focusing on Botswana, supplemented with historical information and some assessments on how disaster relief can be better linked to development. While this paper will concentrate on famine, many of the same principles making an emergency intervention developmental apply as well to disasters in general. For this reason, the first section of this paper will explore the interrelationship between disasters and development, including a critique of the approach countries have conventionally taken to respond to disaster. Next, the conceptual logic for linking disaster relief to development will be reviewed. This section concludes with factors that can be used to measure the effectiveness of an emergency program. With this background in place, the case of Botswana will be examined. The evolution and present institutional structure of Botswana's Drought Relief Programme will be described, followed by an evaluation, using the factors outlined earlier, measuring the extent to which the 1981-1986 drought relief effort was developmental. The paper ends with a brief review of the key elements of the Botswana model.

Suggested Citation

  • Siegle, Joe, 1990. "Botswana'S Approach To Drought: How Disaster Relief Can Be Developmental," Graduate Research Master's Degree Plan B Papers 11196, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:midagr:11196

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