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“Towards a Basic Income Grant for All” The Basic Income Grant Pilot Project in Namibia Rev. Wilfred Nico Diergaardt The Associate General Secretary of.

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Presentation on theme: "“Towards a Basic Income Grant for All” The Basic Income Grant Pilot Project in Namibia Rev. Wilfred Nico Diergaardt The Associate General Secretary of."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Towards a Basic Income Grant for All” The Basic Income Grant Pilot Project in Namibia Rev. Wilfred Nico Diergaardt The Associate General Secretary of the ELCRN Focal Person for the ELCRN Desk for Social Development & Rev Dr. Claudia and Rev. Dr. Dirk Haarmann Directors - Theological Institute for Advocacy and Research in Africa (LUCSA-TARA)

2 Facts about Namibia  Unemployment rate of 51% (2009)  30% of all children below 5 years show clear signs of malnutrition (UNICEF 2008) ‏  The HIV prevalence rate is about 20%  One of the highest level of income inequality in the world (Gini 0.743, UNDP 2010)

3 History & Background of BIG  Government appointed Tax Commission 2002  Proposal for universal cash grant  Establishment of broad-based Coalition 2005:  CCN: Churches  NUNW:Unions  NANGOF:NGOs  NANASO:AIDS organisations  NYC:Youth organisations  CAFO:OVC faith-based organisations  LaRRI:Labour research institute  LAC:Human rights organisation

4 The policy proposal  Monthly cash grant (e.g. N$100) paid to every Namibian citizen (as a right) ‏  The money of people not in need or in poverty is recuperated through the tax system  The BIG is redistributive  The BIG is a secure source of income  The BIG is affordable – 2.2% to 3.8% of GDP

5 The Pilot Project  Two year period, January 2008 to December 2009 in Otjivero-Omitara  Everybody in the village below 60 years (930 recipients) received N$ 100 (US$ 13) every month  ‏ Comprehensive Research:  Baseline Study in November 2007  Impact studies in June and November 2008  Let's see what happened in Otjivero:

6 August ǀ Huiseb's (Grade 6) – Life before BIG This is the way we suffered and lived, us from Otjivero/Omitara. We begged everyday for food because we didn’t have anything at home and during the evening we got in pieces of a blanket. Even the shack we were staying in was not rainproof because when it rained the water just went through. We had to hide in the corners to avoid getting wet. We slept on the ground because there was no bed or a mattress. We did not even have proper plates. We made fire and put pots beside it. Only salt and pots can be seen besides the fire. Whenever the wind blew, the few corrugated zinc sheets on the shack were blown away. We just idled around because of hunger, and as the result we were forced to eat old and rotten corns of maize. We were literally begging for food. I prayed under the tree so that something will happen one day and I will become a human again. Our stomachs were empty, no clothes to put on, no shoes, and no land to live on. In the past we really suffered during that time.

7 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)

8 August ǀ Huiseb's (Grade 6) – Life after BIG When a thing named the BIG was introduced, we could see things changing. When this money came we could get things which we needed. We are now able to buy household staff for our house: A cupboard, a kitchen cupboard, beds, a carpet, wall watches and some chairs. We also bought lots of clothes. We also bought school uniforms and shoes, a radio and things we needed. I believe that this money will remain with us. This is how our life goes.

9 Weight for age children under 5 years  WHO normal distribution  Nov % malnourished  After 12 months of BIG reduced to 10% Since January we did not have a single case of malnutrition, and that is how we see that this N$100 really helps.

10 Impact of the BIG: Health 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.

11 Impact of the BIG: Education Before the BIG, almost half of the children did not attend school regularly Pass rates stood at 40% and less then half of the parents paid school fees. Within 12 months, 90% paid school fees while drop- out rates were virtually eliminated

12 Small business development 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)

13 Local economic growth  Income from:  wage- employment increased by 19%  self- employment increased by 301%  farming increased by 36%

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19 V. Affordability The cost of a BIG for all are 5.7% of the national budget (2008 Budget now even less)

20 The Continuation of the Pilot Project After December 2009: o The Coalition at the end of 2009 with conclusion of the Pilot project resolved to keep the project operational and in place: o To continue with the payments in the form of a “bridging grant” to the 930 beneficiaries o To continue the campaign towards lobbying the Namibian Government to implement a national BIG.

21 The Continuation of the Pilot Project After December 2009: o At the end of 2009 considerable funds were left to continue for more or less another two years with the bridging grant. o A transition of leadership took place at the Desk for Social Development [DfSD] with the appointment of a new leadership team from 2010 onwards, who steer the BIG Secretariat. o It, however, happened that programme funding was used up, which impacted on the results and the continuation of the campaign “Towards a BIG for all.” o This situationfurther placed the Coalition and the Otjivero Community at risk:

22 Challenges o Personnel Challenges: Leadership Team resigned or were suspended - Resulting that BIG Secretariat became non-functional o Funding Challenges since January 2012 o Lack of Fundraising: Challenged Payments to Otjivero & Lack of Programme funding for campaign to date o Erratic Payments to Otjivero since January 2012 (Last Payments end of June 2013) o Commitment and Involvement from Coalition members.

23 Lessons 1. The pilot project community in Otjivero  BIG changed a highly fragmented and extremely impoverished community into a genuine community  Farmers saw Otjivero like “cancer” → after 2 years discussion with the community  Internal relationships were established, able to tackle social issues from within e.g. alcohol  Self-organisation in grass-roots BIG committee  Outreaches, community members explained their experience with BIG – most convincing lobby strategy  The cash response of the Pilot project is a good grounding for the “Drought relief programme - cash response implemented by the Lutheran World Federation - Division World Services and ACT Alliance in Namibia.  Challenge, so called researcher publishing untruths about Otjivero, without ever engaging the people themselves

24 Lessons 2. The Namibian BIG Coalition  Broadest and biggest Coalition since independence (Churches, unions, NGOs etc.)  BIG Coalition deliberately not own legal organisation, emphasis on collective decisions and joint execution of tasks or rotation, based on voluntarism  Charismatic chairperson and in house research and technical capacity  Challenge: After completion of the pilot in Dec 2009, shift to “NGO” style:  Hierarchical organisation  Increased full time staff component  Focus on organisational funding, rather then Pilot and Coalition

25 Lessons 3. International Organisations  Commended as best practise model by UN and LWF  World Bank: Washington hears so much about Otjivero – are you really giving money for nothing  IMF: Intervention in Namibia to oppose BIG on pure ideological grounds, even deliberately presenting wrong calculations to the Namibian finance ministry

26 Lessons 4. The Namibian Government and the debate in Namibia  Initial claim of ownership - “Cabinet tax commission's proposal”  Turned against BIG after IMF intervention  Pilot challenged and still challenges government – part of the daily discussions in line ministries  Critics try to argue as if there was no pilot  Grass-roots support from union members  Politics removed from issues and from reality on the ground - “wild west capitalism”  Need for pressure from below & research & economic understanding  Presidential Candidate has and is still is supportive

27 Lessons for the future struggle – Way forward  Lobby work by pilot community itself – most direct and highly effective  Link between charismatic leadership and technical expertise, hands on communication and co-ordination  Broad spectrum of civil society organisations in Coalition  Organisation and practice needs to be grass-roots democratic – let by principals of solidarity, anti hierarchical, people-centred, voluntarism, transparency (way determines the goal)--> compare BI principles  Reckon with crude neo-capitalist interventions and opposition defending vested interests  Need for mass-movement together  Clear policies for Funding Partners, fundraising with project but not for projects

28 Hope  The vision of Chairperson of the Big Coalition, Bishop Emeritus Dr. Zephania Kameeta is that the Namibian Government needs to take up their constitutional responsibility which according to Article 95 of the Constitution requires the Namibian Government to take care for the welfare of the Namibian people.  Friends in Italy just approve a three year funding support for the Payments at Otjivero, starting from January 2014.

29 “Towards a Basic Income Grant for all!”


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