BIG resumes at Otjivero

15 Jul 2014 18:40pm
OTJIVERO, 15 JUL (NAMPA) - The Basic Income Grant (BIG) resumed at the Otjivero-Omitara settlement after 11 months of inactivity with support from the Waldensian Church in Italy.
The settlement, located 100km east of Windhoek, is part of the Steinhausen Constituency in the Omaheke Region.
The last N.dollars 100 payments made to beneficiaries was in June 2013 as funds ran out.
With the assistance of the Italian church, BIG payments resumed on 13 May this year, with the second payments made on 16 June this year, and again today.
The BIG Coalition, spearheaded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), implemented the BIG pilot project at that settlement between 2008 and 2009.
Back then 930 residents below the age of 60 years received a grant of N.dollars 100 per person per month, without any conditions attached. The grant is being given to every person registered as living there in July 2007, whatever their social and economic status.
The coalition is of the opinion that the N.dollars 100 per month can change their lives for the better in terms of health, housing, education, employment among others.
This has proven to be true - the results of the pilot project showed that BIG helped to fight poverty, foster social development and kick-start local economic development. The impact of the BIG was nothing short of spectacular: poverty levels and child malnutrition declined dramatically while school attendance and utilisation of the local clinic improved. Likewise, economic activities increased significantly while crime levels dropped.
Speaking to Nampa after receiving her N.dollars 100 grant on Tuesday, Menesia Kheises, 37, said life was very hard for her and her two children since the BIG stopped last year.
“We have struggled to make a living. We all here face many problems with the shortage of school fees for our high school learners,” she bemoaned.
Kheises said they mainly spent the money on food, toiletries and school fees for her high school-going children.
Miekie Brinkmann, who is a resident of that settlement since 2007, said the grant has made a big impact in her life. She takes home N.dollars 300 – the grant covers herself, husband and her 16-year-old son.
“We are grateful that this BIG is back. I am happy that we can survive again,” she stressed.
Brinkmann said she wished many more residents here can benefit from this project, as some residents do not receive grants, because they were not in the village when the pilot project was rolled out in 2008.
Koos Vries, 54, expressed the same sentiments, noting that live is now better as he can buy food again.
ELCRN Reverend Wilfred Diergaardt told Nampa that the funding from the Waldensian Church will come to an end in April 2015.
“The ELCRN is now glad to announce that funding from the Waldensian Church enables the payment of the BIG to the inhabitants of Otjivero-Omitara for another year. We have then to look for funding again,” he said.
Diergaardt said the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SWEA) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has implemented a universal cash grant with similar encouraging results in terms of poverty reduction and economic development.
He called on the Namibian Government to witness the difference and impact the grant has made in the lives of people in this village.
The ELCRN has again called on Government to address the plight of the people through a basic income grant, so that Namibia will not be dependent on “benevolent international assistance forever”.