By Wezi Tjaronda
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council has urged its member churches to consider poverty reduction initiatives like Namibia’s Basic Income Grant (BIG) proposal.
At its meeting in Sweden last month, the council expressed its support for initiatives for member churches to address poverty in their own contexts. In a press statement at the end of the meeting, the council recognised the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), which forms part of the coalition advocating the implementation of BIG.
Concerning government responsibility and the mission of the church with a view to poverty, the LWF Council said: “In a world of plenty, the persistence of poverty, especially extreme poverty was a scandal and an outrage.”
The LWF message in support of BIG in Namibia comes weeks after Parliamentarian Hage Geingob called for the implementation of BIG as a means to stop destitution in the country.
He urged the government to introduce BIG for all people that do not have any source of income because although Namibia was classified as a Medium Income country, the reality is that many Namibians live in poverty. In addition, many others cannot even afford to buy their basic needs because of the high unemployment rate that stands above 36 percent.
He said the high figures of unemployment and poverty account for the increase in crime, bad behaviour and lack of respect.
“Address these problems and you will have addressed the problem of crime,” he said.
The BIG coalition is in the process of registering a fund and raising funds for the implementation of BIG on a pilot project basis in one of the rural areas. Dr Claudia Haarmann, project director of the Desk for Social Development of ELCRN said yesterday the coalition has done pre-assessments of different areas but is yet to make a decision on which area to use for the pilot project.
She also said the response from congregation members has been positive especially in pledging to donate funds for the project.
The coalition wants the project to start in 2008, but this will depend on the logistics.
The LWF governing body declared that the first and most fundamental responsibility of governments is to assure the basic welfare and protection of the God-given human dignity of their citizens and of all persons under their authority.
The Council, said the statement, also welcomed the outcome of the September 2006 LWF Consultation on Poverty and the Mission of the Church in Africa, held in Arusha, Tanzania, and encouraged member churches in Africa to implement the Arusha Action Plan, which among others, proposed a coordinated strategy for confronting poverty in Africa.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition.
It was founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden and now has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world representing nearly 66.7 million Christians.