What it's about:
A village in Kenya will become the testing ground for a huge social experiment: giving money directly and unconditionally to those living in poverty.
The experiment led by the charity “GiveDirectly” aims to dispel the claim by some that poor people can’t be trusted with money - as traditionally aid is given in the form of items such as mosquito nets, school supplies, food etc.
The project will provide a universal basic income set at the Kenyan poverty line to dozens of impoverished villages - totalling more than 6,000 people - for 12 years. Thousands more will also receive short-term aid, bringing the total helped to around 26,000.
The charity will make use of existing infrastructure using “M-Pesa”, a common mobile money transfer system that millions of Kenyans already use, dispensing with physical cash and coins.
Many of the recipients were asked about what they would spend the regular income on. Their ideas ranged from school fees to farming equipment and investing in small businesses. The project will give recipients the freedom to determine their own needs and will be closely monitored for results.
Why it's noteworthy:
Basic universal income as a policy has been debated in countries such as the United States, India and France but not yet introduced anywhere.
GiveDirectly’s experiment in Kenya is described as the biggest trial in history and the longest-running study of cash support to date.
The experiment’s scope is large, and it is hoped the trial will produce clear results that will inform policy-making elsewhere in the world.
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