HIV Aids remains the biggest crisis in Botswana being one of the countries hardest hit with AIDS. In a UNAIDS 2003 report it was estimated that 330,000 adults (15-49) were living with AIDS. With a population of only 1,785 000 it is extremely disheartening. Women in the age group of 15-49 in a study done in 2003 showed 190,000 living with aids. The same study done found that Botswana had over 120 000 AIDS orphans. Life expectancy fell from 65 years in 1990-1995 to less than 40 years in 2000-2005.President Festus Mogae, the president of Botswana summed up the situation, by saying the following: “We are threatened with extinction. People are dying in chilling high numbers. It is a crisis of the first magnitude.”
The Botswana Government’s respond to the HIV / AIDS pandemic has been a positive one. The Government, in 1999 instituted the National AIDS Co-coordinating Agency (NACA) which was given the responsibility to mobilize and to co-ordinate a multi-sectoral national response to HIV/AIDS.
The implementation of different programmes by various NGO’S, international and national organizations, faith-based organizations and other stake holders continue to play a major role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Botswana is making remarkable strides in it’s economic growth and through its vision 2016 a government initiative has seen many positive programmes initiated. However, HIV/AIDS, a vision 2016 priority faces a lot of challenges. As a country tremendous strides have been made in gender equality. However the issue of women, girls and HIV/ AIDS needs to be addressed in a proactive manner. Slow improvements have been made in behaviour change.
The Botswana Orphan Project exists to prevent and alleviate:
- Prevent: We believe in a future where there are no orphans or vulnerable children and in a future where the care centers become schools, developing tomorrow’s leaders. In order to prevent further damage from HIV/AIDS, we work with local partners to address behavior change, particularly in women and girls.
- Alleviate: We recognize that behavior change may take time and that the innocent victims (orphans and vulnerable children) need care today. Through local partners, we provide a safe environment where these children can receive the love, care and nutrition needed to grow.