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Botswana and Trypanofomiasis Eradication Campaign
30 January 2007
Festus Mogae


Remarks by H.E. the President, Mr. Festus Mogae
Accepting the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanofomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) Award by the African Union (30/1/2007)

  1. On behalf of the people and the Government of Botswana, I humbly accept the honour bestowed upon me with great humility.


  2. Tsetse flies transmit parasites that cause a disease known as Sleeping Sickness in people and Nagana in animals. Tsetse transmitted diseases have affected people, livestock, and wildlife in Sub-Saharan Africa for many years. Many African economies are still based on agriculture. The performance of these economies has been declining partly due to the poor performance of the agricultural sector, and tsetse flies are a major contributing factor to this poor performance of the agricultural sector.


  3. Experts tell us that tsetse flies occupy one third or 10 million square kilometres of very fertile land of the African continent, rendering it unproductive, and resulting in the so-called "Green Desert". Indeed, tsetse flies are widely recognized as one of Africa's greatest constraints to socio-economic development: inflicting debility, diminished productivity and death in both man and domestic animals, and consequently causing massive economic losses and misery to our people.


  4. The burden imposed by tsetse flies continues to frustrate efforts and hamper progress in development initiatives in the Sub-continent. It is very distressing to note that in spite of its enormous agro-pastoral potential, Africa is still beset with problems of low food production, malnutrition, hunger, starvation, and even famine!


  5. Regrettably, tsetse and tsetse-transmitted diseases are accorded very little attention and priority, mainly because this is essentially a rural problem that is confined to Africa.


  6. However, I am gratified by the decision taken by the African Heads of State and Government, in July 2000 during the AU summit in Lome, Togo advocating the eradication of tsetse flies from the continent of Africa. This decision has made tsetse eradication a collective responsibility for all of us, African Heads of State and Government.


  7. My government is fully committed to tsetse eradication. Tsetse eradication is included in our National Development Plans, and resources, scarce as they are, are allocated accordingly. Tsetse eradication supports the wider policy objectives of improvement in food security at the household and national levels; diversification of the agricultural production base; increased agricultural production and creation of employment opportunities for a growing labour force.


  8. Tsetse eradication also supports tourism in wilderness areas of northern Botswana. Any cases of Sleeping Sickness in the country would negatively affect viability of this lucrative but fragile infant industry.


  9. In 2001 and 2002, the Government of Botswana successfully completed an integrated programme of aerial spraying and odour-baited targets to eradicate tsetse flies from 16 000 kmē of the Okavango delta. The 2002 operation was followed by a similar operation in 2006 covering 10 000 km2.


  10. The 2006 spray block extended into the Caprivi Strip in Namibia and over their northern border with Angola to ensure that tsetse flies could not reinvade into Botswana. The project was a joint venture between the Governments of Namibia and Botswana where my country provided funding for the aerial spraying while the Government of Namibia provided logistical and operational support including aviation facilities. It is therefore most appropriate that on this occasion I am sharing this award with my brother and partner, His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Let me also acknowledge the partnership we have enjoyed with Angola and Zambia in this important campaign.


  11. The 2006 aerial spraying programme became the first phase in Pan African Tsetse and Trypanofomiasis Eradication Campaign's (PATTEC) programme to progressively eliminate tsetse flies from the common fly belt extending from Botswana, through the Caprivi, into southern Angola and Western Zambia.


  12. I would also like to thank the AU PATTEC Office for supporting and facilitating implementation of this regional initiative. This project has indeed, highlighted the significance of Africa's concerted action to solve common problems.


  13. I am confident that such an initiative will contribute significantly to enhancing the general socio-economic well-being of our peoples, particularly those constrained by tsetse-transmitted diseases. I thank you.

These remarks were distributed by TAUTONA TIMES, no 3 of 2007, the weekly electronic press circular of the Office of the President, Botswana.

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