Implement Big to Fight Poverty – Jauch

The acting chairperson of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) coalition, Herbert Jauch has called for the speedy implementation of the grant to address poverty and unemployment in Namibia.

In a presentation delivered on poverty eradication during the two-day Ecumenical Social Community Action (ESCA) symposium in Windhoek on Thursday, Jauch said the grant will improve the living conditions of all Namibians.

“A national BIG will reduce poverty and unemployment, increase economic activities, improve educational outcomes and the health status of the majority of Namibians. The BIG is only one aspect of redistribution and needs to be accompanied by other measures to achieve transformative structural changes,” he stressed.

A BIG pilot project commenced in the Otjivero-Omitara area, about 100 kilometres east of the capital, in 2008. All residents below the age of 60 years receive the N$100 grant per person per month, without any conditions attached. The grant is given to every person registered as living there in July 2007, whatever their social and economic status.

Jauch said that within 12 months of the introduction of the BIG the number of “severely poor” households dropped from 86% to 43%, while the number of households below the food poverty line fell from 76% to 16% and unemployment dropped from 60% to 45%. Child malnutrition affected 42% of all children before the grant, and this figure dropped to 10% within 12 months of the BIG.

Before the BIG, learners did not concentrate in class due to hunger but now they are more energetic and concentrate more, thus there are better results. Before the BIG, poverty hindered access to health services while access to and effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment also improved significantly.

“The BIG did not lead to laziness and dependency but created a local market. It is time to act,” Jauch stated.

The symposium is taking place under the theme ‘Contemporary issues facing church and society’. The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) and the Helsinki Deaconess Institute (HDI) organised the event, which ended Friday.

-Nampa

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Source : The Namibian