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Unhappy nation…key factors…

Publishing Date : 26 March, 2019

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The World Happiness Report has once again indicated that Botswana is among the unhappiest nation in the world. Government usually take pride in rankings from credible international institutions when they rank Botswana favourably and seldom take heed when we fare baldy in other rankings.

Botswana has been ranked best in areas such as democracy, transparency and good governance, but it has always fared badly in ranking such Inequality, Gender gap as well as happiness. The World Happiness Report which has been released annually since 2012, surveyed 156 countries using six metrics: GDP per capita, income, healthy life expectancy, the freedom to make life choices, social support, trust and generosity, and perceptions of corruption. Out of these 156 countries, Botswana is ranked 146 with 3.590 points, performing worse than even war torn countries like Syria and newly born nation South Sudan

There are many factors that could be contributing to this and some of these factors we know are real concerns facing our nation. For instance, income is one of the indexes that were used to gauge the country’s happiness. We know from pervious other ranking that Botswana has devastating level of income inequality, and has been consistently ranked among the bottom four most unequal nations in the world, among other countries, its neighbours South Africa and Namibia.

We have not responded decisively to this problem and the worry about income disparities feeds to other life aspects such as quality of education and access to quality health care. The state of our hospitals and the entire health care system is horrible. The performance of public schools is horrible with pupils’ performances consistently poor over the past 10 years or so. There have not been effective or defined government intervention measures either.

Meanwhile in the same report, Nordic countries; Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Norway have all made it in the top 10. And we know it is not a coincidence, they have one thing in common— Equal societies! The level of inclusiveness promoted by Nordic countries should be a blue print that is adopted by a country such as Botswana. Just like Botswana, most of these Nordic countries have smaller populations and they have ensured that every citizens have equal decent shot at life, regardless of economic status, thus— they can access best health care, best education and virtually everybody is can afford all the basic needs.

This is not because these Nordic countries are very rich. It is because they have built societies with strong values on compassion such that they want government which works for everybody. The Nordic societies have high taxes, but they are happy since those taxes work for the people. The people are happy with government funded schools and government health facilities. People are happy with what they earn and trust that government is working for them.

Finland is ranked the country with the best education system in the world, and it has become the envy of the world. This is not because it is rich, but because it has figured out that a succeeding together is important. Transforming our fortunes in order to make our nation a happy one, we need to do deal with the underlying problems. Today the biggest problem which is facing the country is unemployment and job losses that have continued hit various sectors of the economy. There is no doubt that the response has not been convincing from government.

The issue of inequality, from the policy point of view has never been addressed. At least in a manner that will ensure that people graduate from puberty and become economic dependent with good pay careers. We still see the cast system in health care system where people who do not afford medical health insurance are condemned to the dysfunctional public health care system. We continue to see people in poor communities being affected by diseases of poverty and dying from illness that could have been cured. These occurrences are devastating and are creating this atmosphere of unhappiness.

The recent rise in corruption cases also do not help in creating a society which can trust its government and its institution. For us to address all these problems, we need to find a common ground as a nation. First we should teach our politicians to account, and learn demand the best from those who hold public offices. In the absence of strong and resilient institutions, we have no government, and the concept of addressing the challenges we are facing as a country will always remain a castle built in the air.



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