How a Basic Income Program Saved a Namibian Village
By Dialika Krahe in Otjivero, Namibia
It sounds like a communist utopia, but a basic income program pioneered by German aid workers has helped alleviate poverty in a Nambian village. Crime is down and children can finally attend school. Only the local white farmers are unhappy.
The full, red Namibian sun is setting outside his living room window, the workers are returning to their corrugated metal huts, and Siggi von Lüttwitz is hitting a wooden table with the palm of his hand to explain why the experiment cannot work.
"They all drink, you know," he says, smoking an unfiltered cigarette, "and if you give them 100 dollars, they'll just drink more." By "they" Lüttwitz means the people of Otjivero, a settlement adjacent to his farmland. And by "they" he means people who are poor and black. http://www.spiegel.de/international/wor ... 10,00.html
A new approach worth trying to see how the people decide how to invest the grant money. Once the middlemen or bribed officials are out of the way, more of the donated money gets to the end recipients who freely decide on the money's end use. How will parents handle a new child's grant money, I wonder? Save for school, a rainy day emergency fund, or a business?In the small Namibian village of Otjivero, a coalition of aid organizations is attempting to prove that both conclusions are wrong. They insist that Africa can be helped -- provided it gets the right kind of help, which requires a new and different approach to aid.
The idea is simple: The payment of a basic monthly income, funded with tax revenues, of 100 Namibia dollars, or about €9 ($13), for each citizen. There are no conditions, and nothing is expected in return. The money comes from various organizations, including AIDS foundations, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Protestant churches in Germany's Rhineland and Westphalia regions.