Poverty levels can become humanitarian crisis

Otis Daniels_Finck
The Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition has been lobbying for the implementation of a universal/unconditional grant for close to two decades.

According to the coalition, they have been warning government that the poverty levels in Namibia would become a humanitarian crisis. “It is shameful that a resource-rich country with a manageable population of 2.5 million has 1.6 million people living in poverty unable to afford basic needs and live a minimally decent life,” a statement read.

The statement came after an article in the media appeared stating how many Namibians are living in poverty. “The poorly planned and unsustainable Harambee Prosperity Plan 2 mentions in Pillar 3 (social progression) that the Food Bank will be converted into a BIG scheme for which only the previous Food Bank recipient will be beneficiaries. We are disheartened that President Geingob still bases his poverty eradication measures and legacy on the Food Bank which isn’t relevant and has made very little impact on the current situation,” the statement continued. Only about 42 000 recipients will then benefit from BIG.

Poverty has devastating consequences on people resulting in a range of serious physical and psychological harms including higher risks of disease, shortened life spans, as well as stunted mental and emotional development. Poverty also leads to crimes, homicides, GBV and suicides which have been rising over the last 5 years.

“A BIG is a scheme necessary for a minimal decent existence that Namibia can afford as a resource-rich country. This situation would have been easily avoided had a universal/unconditional BIG been introduced earlier as recommended by the BIG Coalition. A universal BIG has been scientifically validated by 130 pilot studies across the world to be by far the most efficient way through which to reduce poverty, malnutrition, illnesses, crime and school dropouts.”

The coalition believes that each Namibian aged between 19-59 should receive N$500 per month without conditions. “We do not support calls for food aid from the international community, as it will keep us dependent on the goodwill of others. It's time Africa stopped begging. We call upon all Namibians to support the BIG Movement to ensure that we hold the government accountable for the promises made by immediately implementing a universal BIG which is the best way to reduce poverty.