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Analytical summary - Food safety and nutrition

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Almost all of Botswana’s food supplies are imported, with beef being the major local food product. Although a strong foreign exchange and the Government of Botswana's strategy of keeping a stock of grain reserves to ensure adequate supplies have cushioned the country against immediate food security threat, low birth weight is common in Botswana and contributes to the high infant mortality rate.

The Multiple Indicator Survey 2000 showed that 2.4% of children had severe undernutrition while 7.9% were severely stunted.[1] The prevalence of anaemia was 38% in children and 33% among women in 1994. Nutritional status of children aged under 5 years is shown in the table.
Nutritional status of children aged under 5 years. BFHS, Botswana Family Health Survey; MIS, Multiple Indicator Survey[2]

Notwithstanding the adverse climatic and soil conditions, the long focus on traditional rain-fed arable farming and the reluctance of farmers to adopt modern farming methods have contributed to a decline in the yield of the agricultural sector.

One initiative to ensure food availability has been the creation of safety nets for vulnerable populations such as infants, schoolchildren, orphans, pregnant women, older adults and sick people by providing supplementary feeding to such population groups.

The National Food Strategy 1985 and the Food Control Act 1993 have been put in place to ensure food security. Through the National Food Control Board, the National Food Control Act of 1993 provides for the prevention and elimination of unsafe food. One of the provisions of the Act is the regulation of the marketing of foods for infants and young children, as well as labelling of food additives. A code for marketing of breast-milk substitutes has been put in place to protect breastfeeding.

The nutrition programme for primary-school children, orphans and other vulnerable groups reaches one third of the total population and has been one of the most successful programmes in the country.[3] In 2002, the Government introduced the National Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development Programme that promises better yields from farming and reduction of rural poverty, especially if coupled with innovative technologies that may attract young people to farming.

Recognizing the risk of malnutrition in people living with AIDS, in 2007 the Ministry of Health established National nutrition and HIV/AIDS guidelines for service providers of people living with HIV/AIDS aimed at ensuring consistent and sound nutritional care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.


  1. Multiple Indicator Survey (pdf 413.99kb). Gaborone, Government of Botswana, Central Statistics Office, 2000
  2. 2007 Botswana Family Health Survey IV report. Gaborone, Government of Botswana, Central Statistics Office, and United Nations Children’s Fund, 2009
  3. Second common country assessment for Botswana. Final report. United Nations, 2007