The Role of Villages and Ecological Constraints in Botswana
This chapter discusses the functions of villages that have changed through time. It explains how the people of Botswana, living in a semi-arid environment, have been able to sustain a system of large settlements. The arid and semi-arid environments of Africa are usually fragile, characterized by poor soil and low, variable, and unpredictable rainfall. Post-independence economic policies have also been significant in stimulating settlement change. In 1966, Botswana, in the grip of a severe drought, had become dependent on British grants-in-aid to balance its budget. The village in Botswana has always performed a number of roles. The colonial era was an important formative period for settlements in Botswana. The Tswana, with their relatively high level of social organization, were able to maintain large nucleated settlements. In South Africa, the colonial government removed the power of the chief through a system of direct rule, a process which contributed tremendously to the disintegration of nucleated settlements among the Tswana.