Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

World's barriers: Botswana-Zimbabwe

Botswana barrier
Some cattle are still able to get through to Botswana through gaps in the fence

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, BBC Mundo looks at barriers which are still standing - or have gone up since - around the world.

The wall which separates Botswana and Zimbabwe has been compared to that which surrounds the West Bank, but has more to do with sanitation than geopolitics.

The barbed wire fence is 2m (6ft) high and spans some 500km (310 miles).

In 2003, the government of Botswana announced plans to build an electric fence along the border with Zimbabwe to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease among livestock.


Thousands of cattle have been slaughtered in Botswana over the last few years because of successive waves of the disease.

This loss is particularly significant in a country where cattle farming is the second largest source of income after diamond mining.

However, the Zimbabwean authorities, say the fence is to prevent Zimbabweans from crossing illegally into Botswana.

The Zimbabwean economy has been in freefall - hyperinflation has reached as much as 100,000% at times and the unemployment rate is more than 90%.

As a consequence, many Zimbabweans have tried to emigrate to Botswana, one of the wealthiest economies on the continent alongside South Africa.

The electric fence has never actually been turned on. There are no patrols monitoring how effective the barriers are.

For the moment the wall does not appear to be an insurmountable barrier.

Various rivers cross its width, creating gaps through which herds can easily cross the border.

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