How do you empower poor people to get out of poverty? By helping them to get a decently paid job. Right. But that is not so easy. Especially not, if you are in a country like Namibia, Africa, that has an extremely high unemployment rate. Young people are affected the most:
In 2004, among 15-19 year olds 64.6% were unemployed (i.e. they were looking for work but couldn’t find any). Among 20-24 year olds the rate was 57.4%. The rates are always worse among women. Among young women of the ages 15-19, 70.2% were unemployed (the number are in this pdf, page 7f)
In an text for the United Nations Commission on Social Development in 2007, leading members (including the bishop) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Republic of Namibia present a new idea. Why shouldn’t all people receive a basic income just to ensure their dignity? They propose to give every person in Namibia the equivalent of 14 US-Dollars a month. People who earn more would still get this Basic Income Grant (or BIG) but they would simply pay more taxes.
The authors believe that these would be the advantages of the BIG:
- BIG alleviates income insecurity and thus empowers to economic activity. People could now look and train for better jobs. They are able to risk starting a business of their own.
- BIG would bring crucial resources into households that are affected by HIV and Aids.
- It enables children to getter proper nutrition. Without enough food, they won’t perform at school.
The authors of the study are convinced that even a poor country like Namibia is able to finance a Basic Income Grant. I think it is an exciting idea that would really help people to live a decent life. If it would be possible to make it work in Namibia, wouldn’t it work elsewhere, as well?
(Authors of the study: Bishop Dr. Z. Kameeta, Dr. Claudia Haarmann, Dr. Dirk Haarmann and Herbert Jauch)