BIG Resumes At Otjivero

THE Basic Income Grant (BIG) resumed at the Otjivero-Omitara settlement after 11 months of inactivity with support from the Waldensian Church in Italy.

The settlement, located 100km east of Windhoek, is part of the Steinhausen Constituency in the Omaheke Region.

The last N$100 payments were made to beneficiaries in June 2013 after which funds ran out.

With the assistance of the Italian church, BIG payments resumed on 13 May this year, with the second payments made on 16 June, and again today.

The BIG Coalition, spearheaded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), implemented the BIG pilot project at that settlement between 2008 and 2009.

Back then, 930 residents below the age of 60 years received a grant of N$100 per person per month, without any conditions attached.

The grant is being given to every person registered as living there in July 2007, whatever their social and economic status.

The coalition is of the opinion that the N$100 per month can change the lives of the residents for the better in terms of health, housing, education and employment, among others.

The impact of the BIG was nothing short of spectacular: poverty levels and child malnutrition declined dramatically, while school attendance and utilisation of the local clinic improved.

Menesia Kheises (37) said life was very hard for her and her two children since the BIG stopped last year.

“We have struggled to make a living. We all here face many problems with the shortage of school fees for our children who attend high school,” she said.

Miekie Brinkmann, who is a resident of that settlement since 2007, said the grant has made a big impact in her life.

She takes home N$300 – the grant covers herself, husband and her 16-year-old son.

Brinkmann said she wished many more residents here can benefit from this project, as some residents do not receive grants, because they were not in the village when the pilot project was rolled out in 2008.

Koos Vries (54) expressed the same sentiments, noting that live is now better as he can buy food again.

ELCRN reverend Wilfred Diergaardt said the funding from the Waldensian Church will come to an end in April 2015.

“The ELCRN is now glad to announce that funding from the Waldensian Church enables the payment of the BIG to the inhabitants of Otjivero-Omitara for another year. We have then to look for funding again,” he said.

Diergaardt said the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SWEA) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has implemented a universal cash grant with similar encouraging results in terms of poverty reduction and economic development.

The ELCRN has again called on Government to address the plight of the people through a basic income grant, so that Namibia will not be dependent on “benevolent international assistance forever”.


Source : The Namibian