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Future of Basic Income Grant Project : World Social Forum, Dakar 2011

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1 Future of Basic Income Grant Project : World Social Forum, Dakar 2011
By Uhuru Dempers Basic Income Grant Coalition of Namibia - Secretariat

2 Facts about Namibia: development challenges
Country with the highest levels of income inequality in the world (UN and World Bank). Unemployment rate jumped from 37% in to 51.2 % in 2008 up to 70% for youth. Morethan 30% of all children below 5 years show clear signs of malnutrition and high levels of infant mortality rates (UNICEF 2008) HIV prevalence rate is about 20% 25% Namibians – severe hunger (FAO)

3 Facts about Namibia: continue...
Measurement of poverty a matter of debate and therefore various indicators used. Crude international poverty line of less than U$1 per day will include 62% of Namibians 4000 white males still owns 60% of productive agricultural land and reform very slow No framework of policy for black economic empowerment resulting in corrupt deals

4 Existing forms of social security in Namibia
Universal, unconditional old age pension (N$500pm) for citizens +60years – almost 80% to 90% coverage and minimal administration cost. Conditional Disability Grant (N$500pm) for severe disabilities – low coverage Conditional grants for orphans and vulnerable children(various amounts) War Veterans Grants (N$2500pm)

5 Existing contributory schemes
Various contributory conditional grants for only the employed managed by Social Security Commission Including (funeral benefit N$5000), Maternity percentage of salary and Workmen’s compensation for workplace accidents Various private pension/medical aid schemes for formal high income employees. Low income workers excluded by most private sector schemes

6 Major challenges with existing forms of social grants
Existing social grants have been a relieve for the poor and supports a “household” (average 6 people) and not only the individual beneficiary Social grants currently covers only a small percentage of the poorest and unemployed BIG Question: What about those not covered by existing social grants? Does the state not have duty to assist them with basic needs, what about those that will sleep hungry means of survival?

7 History & Background of BIG
NAMTAX Commission 2002 (Government!)‏ Policy Proposal: Monthly cash grant (e.g. N$100) paid to every Namibian citizen (rights-based approach)‏ Every Namibian would receive such a grant up until pension age – a HH of 6 would receive N$600 per month The money of people not in need or in poverty is recuperated through the tax system

8 History & Background of BIG
NAMTAX Commission 2002 ELCRN synod resolution 2003 International Conference on income security Mobilization of civil society stakeholders and public discussions, awareness raising BIG Model – considered a radical departure from conventional empowerment projects

9 Civil Society advocacy campaign for policy proposal
Establishment of Basic Income Grant Coalition of Membership: National Union of Namibian Workers(NUNW), Council of Churches of Namibia(CCN), Namibia NGO’s Forum(NANGOF), Network of AIDS Organisations(NANASO), National Youth Council(NYC), Church Alliance for orphans and vulnerable children (CAFO) –resource organizations -LAC and LARRI Disability movement and farmers union joining soon - Largest civil society network in Namibia

10 BIG Pilot Project Two year period, January December in Otjivero-Omitara 930 recipients ‏Comprehensive Research: Baseline Study in November 2007 Timeseries in June and November 2008 Case studies (people with HIV, single mothers, guy, youth etc.) Key informants (police, nurse, teachers, shebeen owners etc.) Clinic data Police statistics (crime statistics) School statistics (Payments and pass-rates) Photo documentation (2,000 pics - before BIG till end of pilot) External international reference group Coming back to the pilot: Research base: Pictures:which have been used all over the world from Australia, to journals and articles in international development publications, in the Spiegel etc. All this gives you a bit of background what the BIG campaign and the pilot is all about, but it cannot capture the experience of people living in Otjivero. Therefore, before we go to Otjjivero, I would like to give you four quotations from Otjivero before the BIG and would like to ask four people who sit here in front to read them to us.

11 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara before the BIG
Some days we don’t have anything (to eat) and we just have to go and sleep and get up again without eating. We are really hungry. (Emilia Garises)

12 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara before the BIG
When I started getting sick my boss asked me to go on unpaid sick leave till I got better. When I was put on ARV treatment I started getting better and I went back to my boss but he told me that he no longer wanted me to work for him…I and my child need to eat nutritional food because of our HIV status. (...) Some months we skip our monthly ARV treatment because we don’t have the transport money to travel to Gobabis. (Tuhafeni Veshiyele)

13 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara before the BIG
My employer chased me away after I went to Windhoek with his permission to visit my sister who was sick. All my children attended school but could not finished their school career because I could not afford to pay their school fees. (Aron Swartz)

14 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara before the BIG
There is a problem of unemployment and we don’t have money to travel to Gobabis and Windhoek to look for work. I and my three children depend on my unemployed parents for food and accommodation. Sometimes I wish I was dead because I cannot stand this type of life anymore. I am supposed to provide and protect my children and parents but I am failing to do that. (Willemina Gawises)

15 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara with the BIG - Hunger
In our house there is many people, we are 28 and at pay out we all contribute money for food. We give the money to granddad and grandmother and we sitting together and draw up a list of the things to buy and one of us have to travel with the train either to Windhoek or Gobabis to go buy the food in bulk. (Hermanus Coetzee)


17 Voices of Otjivero-Omitara with the BIG - Education
Before the Basic Income Grant things were really bad and it was difficult to teach the children, now they concentrate more and they pay more attention in class. They are generally happy, because they have enough to eat at home now (Principal Primary School in Otjivero Ms. R. Jeremia)

18 Health and the Clinic Since the introduction of the BIG income of the clinic has risen five fold, from about N$ 250 to N$ 1,300 The BIG strengthens and complements Government's efforts to provide ARV's to all, who need them. Provide something for the people to eat

19 Impact of the BIG: Poverty
Child malnutrition affected 42% of all children before the BIG. This figure dropped to 10% within 12 months of the BIG “Generally the BIG has brought life to our place. Everyone can afford food and one does not see anymore people coming to beg for food as in the past” Average household debt decreased from N$ 1215 to N$ 772


21 Self employment & small businesses after BIG
Since we get the BIG I bought materials and I am making 3 dresses that I will sell. When I finish with this one (shows an almost completed dress), I will start with new ones. I sell a dress for N$ 150. I also paid a deposit for new zinc sheets for my house. When you come again, you will see the changes. I have a lot of plans. (Emilia Garises)

22 Self employment & small businesses after BIG
After the introduction of the BIG I started my business. I bake traditional bread every day. I bake 100 rolls per day and sell each for N$1 (one dollar). I sell all the rolls in a day and a profit of about N$400 (four hundred dollars) per month. My business is good and I believe that it will grow. (...). I run it with the help of my children. Because of my thankfulness and good experience with the BIG I expressed my thank you in those big letters as you can see on my house. (Frieda Nembwaya)

23 Crime The incidence of poverty related crimes has fallen by over 60% since the BIG was introduced.

24 Livelihoods and Economic Activity
Unemployment dropped significantly, while only 36% were working in Nov 07, in July 08 this rose to 48% Out of the unemployed the proportion of people actively looking for work increased.

25 Challenges and opportunities
Pilot Project results -most powerful advocacy tool – both national and internationally BIG Project –put poverty, hunger and unemployment on national agenda –pressure to deliver as there no immediate alternative 2year Pilot concluded but community assisted with N$80 bridging allowance Major focus now- Community and public mobilization for mass action to demand for implementation of BIG As the BIG was only introduced in one location, there was substantial migration towards Otjivero. As a result, per capita income from the BIG dropped from N$ 89 in January 2008 to N$ 67 in November 2009

26 Challenges and Opportunites
Cracks in BIG Coalition – NUNW withdrawal and comeback – political pressures Critics –dependency, cost, sustainability and universiality v/s targeting. Media Campaign successful Linkages of BIG Concept to other structural causes of poverty and inequality Alaska and Brazil experiences useful Linkages with national,regional and international socio-economic justice campaigns critical Role of IMF and World Bank and local elites


28 “Towards a Basic Income Grant for all!”

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