SOS Children's Villages Botswana hosted a 4 day Global Economic Empowerment Conference from the 20th to the 23rd of march 2023. The conference whose main mandate was to validate a research report, was attended by 70 delegates from different countries, and a further 200 people participated virtually.
In 2022 SOS Children’s Villages conducted a global research on economic empowerment of our program beneficiaries, after it was observed that the main reason for child neglect in all the countries is household poverty, and that of all interventions the need for economic empowerment takes a lead. Upon realizing that there is lack of capacity to close the gap, the research was conducted in 61 countries, to find out how best to fit in economic empowerment in our programming, and to develop tools and guidelines.
The conference attracted stakeholders from a broad spectrum; government, private sector, civil society organizations and development partners. SOS Children’s Villages delegates comprised of Member Associations, Partnership Supporting Associations and International Office who came from Africa, Latin America, East and central Europe.
When officially opening the conference, Assistant Minister of Local Government in Botswana , Mr. Mabuse Pule said ‘’Across the lifespan, residents of impoverished communities are at increased risk for mental illness, chronic diseases, higher mortality and lower life expectancy”. He said children were the largest age group experiencing poverty, and were likely to be denied opportunity to develop to their full potential if the situation was not changed. He urged SOS Children’s Village to ensure that the federation programmes were relevant to the needs of the children born in vulnerable families and in the process establish SOS Children's Villages as a credible voice in the development world.
Deputy Director, SOS Children Villages, International Office Region ESAF, Mr Bedilu Shegen said adopting the economic empowerment route would reduce families' and communities’ vulnerability to poverty, increase economic independence and improve everyone’s ability to provide for their children. He said traditional funding sources like government donor agencies that many NGOs relied upon were being constrained, adding that it was high time SOS Children’s Village positioned itself towards a more innovative and social investment approach for economic growth.
The Conference ended with Mr. Alexander Kekula, thanking all who made the conference a success. He said the conference was the starting point, there will be other activities that will follow in due course.