What do three municipalities in Botswana have in common with Bollnäs, Lund and Valdemarsvik? The answer is much more than you might think. They all face challenges in getting more young people involved in community development, increasing social sustainability and creating better structures to take the views and needs of young people into account. To learn more about their partnership, ICLD visited these municipalities in Botswana in early June.
Simon Härenstam and Josefin Daleskog were the Programme Officers at ICLD who took part in the municipal visits to Botswana. The visits took place in the three municipalities of Lobatse, Palapye and Francistown. Lobatse has a partnership with Bollnäs, Palaplye with Valdemarsvik and Francistown with Lund. All these partnerships are part of the ICLD Human Rights Networks. A network brings together partnerships working on the same topic, which provides better opportunities for exchange on various areas, such as increasing young people’s opportunities to influence decision-making, or how to combat gender-based violence.
Voices from Botswanan municipalities
Francistown is Botswana’s second largest city located in the north-east of the country and cooperates with Lund. Here ICLD met with the project team, which includes Mandla Hlabano, Nattasch Maphane and Lesogo Kwambala. Their project is about youth empowerment but also about combating gender-based violence.
– In Botswana Gender based violence prevails. It is a crisis, just like the corona crisis or the climate crises. It is evident that there is need for peer to peer learning and building a community based response to this crisis, says Lawrence Mazynyane Deputy Town clerk, who also attended the meeting.
Francistown also hopes that Lund can learn from them about how to create spaces for citizen dialogue:
– We hope that Lund can learn from our ways of reaching out to the community. We call it “Pitso ya malwapa”, says Lesogo Kwambala who is the national youth commissioner and also one of the participants in the partnership.
Palapye, is a so-called sub-district, with a smaller mandate than a district, town or city council in Botswana. They have an ongoing inception with the municipality of Valdemarsvik.
In addition to project manager Faith Tshekiso, coordinator Beauty Thote and many others, ICLD met with Mayor Khutomame Lekoko.
– When I was elected sub-council chair person of Palapye, I made a vow to the public to fight gender-based violence and promote youth inclusion. So I think this partnership with Valdemarsvik can give us a lot,” says Khutomame Lekoko, mayor of Palapye.
Lobatse is the former capital in southern Botswana with a population of around 30,000. They are in the first year of three in their cooperation project with the municipality of Bollnäs. The project focus is to include young people in building sustainable communities and also has an ambition to strengthen the work with cultural heritage of the communities.
– We believe that we have a lot to learn from each other in our partnership with Bollnäs when it comes to involving youth in municipal matters, and how to deal with our cultural heritage, says Estinah Kenosi Mmereki, coordinator of the project team in Lobatse Municipality, Botswana.
Present at the municipal visits was also BALA, the Botswana Association of Local Authorities, which promotes the interests of local authorities at national level. They look forward to continue cooperating with the ICLD.
– It is important to replicate any future results from the partnerships nationally, so that development within human rights do not stay in one local context but cascades to other communities. That’s where we can play a role, says Steve Pheko, Executive Secretary of BALA.
The ICLD looks forward to follow how the work of the partnerships deepens and develops. Together these municipalities want to make a difference for human rights and local democracy development!