July 9, 2003 - Reuters: Volunteers work in AIDS prevention in Botswana

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Botswana: Peace Corps Botswana : The Peace Corps in Botswana: July 9, 2003 - Reuters: Volunteers work in AIDS prevention in Botswana

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 11:16 am: Edit Post

Volunteers work in AIDS prevention in Botswana

Volunteers work in AIDS prevention in Botswana

Bush's Brief Visit to Lift Botswana from Obscurity
Wed July 9, 2003 06:28 AM ET
By Barry Baxter

GABORONE (Reuters) - For a few brief hours President Bush's visit to Botswana on Thursday will thrust the obscure country to the center of the world stage.

The six-hour visit to the southern African state, squeezed into Bush's five-day continental tour, represents a pat on the back for a long-standing ally Washington sees as an example to the rest of Africa in pursuing democracy and market economics.

The Gaborone government demonstrated its loyalty on Tuesday, saying it agreed not to hand U.S. citizens to the International Criminal Court, which Bush fears may be used for politically motivated action against U.S. personnel serving abroad.

Bush has severed military aid to 35 countries, including regional power South Africa, that refused to sign.

For Bush the Botswana trip is an opportunity to highlight his country's contribution to Africa's battle against AIDS.

Perhaps more important for the dozens of photographers from the United States, it will offer a chance to snap Bush and his wife Laura at a nature reserve -- the nearest he is likely to come to a big-game safari during his tour and a far cry from the two-day trek Bill and Hillary Clinton made in Botswana in 1998.

The country is mostly desert, home to some 55,000 San Bushmen -- nomadic hunters and gatherers who have roamed southern Africa for centuries, and whose struggle to retain a traditional way of life despite creeping development has brought widespread media attention.

Botswana has a population of just 1.7 million people and boasts among the highest average per capita incomes in Africa -- $3,100 per year -- thanks to its reserves of gem diamonds, many of which end up in the United States.

Yet the same mines have become the breeding grounds for HIV/AIDS virus, and the country holds the dubious honor of the highest rate of HIV infection on Earth.


Almost one in five people in Botswana -- or 330,000 people -- have HIV, rising to 38.5 percent of the sexually active population.

"We're really looking forward to this visit. We hope we'll get something out of it. We need a lot of support -- not only material, but moral support too," Abinel Whendero of Botswana's National AIDS Coordinating Agency, told Reuters.

Washington, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. drug firms Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck have all stepped into Botswana's fight against AIDS -- which unlike South Africa next door promises life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs for all.

Also lending a hand against AIDS are a dozen volunteers of the U.S. Peace Corps that Bush sent back to Botswana last year at President Festus Mogae's request -- four years after they were withdrawn because Botswana was seen as too well off.

Apart from meeting the volunteers Bush will see one of three regional trade hubs the United States opened in Africa last year to help the continent trade its way out of poverty.

Compared to African countries destroyed by wars over mineral resources, Botswana is a model of successful development.

Now the supplier of a third of the world's supply of diamonds by value, Botswana has been rated the least corrupt African country by Transparency International and the United Nations said on Tuesday women fared better there than in Greece, Italy and Japan.

(Additional reporting by Toby Reynolds)

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Reuters

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Botswana; HIV



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.