BIG Takes Off

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By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK

The Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition has identified one village where residents would get a grant of N$100 every month.

This is a pilot project in which the coalition would give the grant to every community member below the age of 60 for two years.

The pilot project will be announced and launched this evening.

An invitation to the event said on Friday this was the first ever-BIG pilot project to try and tackle poverty, hunger and income security head on.

The coalition, comprising the Council of Churches in Namibia, National Union of Namibian Workers, the Namibia Non-Governmental Organisation Forum and the Namibia Network of AIDS Service Organiations, started fundraising early this year to implement BIG at one village and to prove its feasibility.

Others members of the coalition are the Legal Assistance Centre and the Labour Resource and Research Institute.

The coalition, launched in 2005, started to advocate for the grant on the basis that although Namibia is classified as a middle low-income country, the country has a high unemployment rate, high HIV/AIDS prevalence, high-income inequalities and poverty levels.

The grant was proposed by the Namibian Tax Consortium (Namtax) in 2002 as a way of putting the country on an economic redistributive path.

The coalition believes that such an amount would eliminate destitution and enable parents and others to send their children to school and to start small businesses to generate income.

In April this year, the United Nations Commission cited Namibia’s BIG proposal as one of the good practices relating to full employment and decent work, and as one of the several good practices that would alleviate poverty and empower rural households to improve their lives.

This followed a presentation by the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Dr Zephaniah Kameeta, to the United Nations Commission for Social Development in New York in February.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council at its meeting in April also supported the initiative and urged its member churches to consider poverty reduction initiatives like Namibia’s BIG proposal.

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