IRIN on an interesting Namibian approach to fighting poverty, that if it works may further reinforce confidence in cash based transfers. Excerpt :
There are no roads, no major industry and no historical landmarks in Otjivero, a village about 150km east of Windhoek, the Namibian capital and previously known for little more than its poverty. But in January 2008 it became part of one of the world's first basic income grant (BIG) projects, and now stands the chance of setting an international precedent in the fight against poverty.
About 1,000 villagers have been receiving a BIG of N$100 (US$10) as part of a trial project funded by contributions from international donors and private citizens and administered by Namibia's BIG Coalition made up of four major umbrella nongovernmental organisations. Community members say the money has gone a long way towards providing better nutrition, housing and even seed money to small businesses; project implementers say it has disproved aid industry myths about the feasibility of such a grant.
The issue of a BIG - an initiative to provide every citizen irregardless of wealth with a grant to insure a minimum monthly income - has been championed by its supporters as a low-cost method of redistributing wealth in societies such as Namibia, which according to the United Nations development Programme, have extremely high levels of income inequality.
While the idea of a grant has gained new relevance in recent years with innovations in aid distribution, such as cash transfers, opposition remains from many who have argued the grant will foster dependency, and that national budgets in developing countries are ill-equipped to finance such a large-scale intervention.
Despite a serious push for a BIG in Brazil, South Africa and Namibia, the project at Otjivero is the first time such a grant has been implemented.