In Brief
  • One charity is testing a pilot program of Universal Basic Income in a village in Uganda hoping to study its effects.
  • The concept is looked to by many as a necessary step to ensure the survival of those most vulnerable to increased automation.

Income for All

Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been gaining a lot of traction as of late with various industry experts, government officials, and financial experts expressing the need to explore the possibilities of implementing a basic income program.

UBI is a lump sum of money given periodically to individuals unconditionally. There are no tests or work requirements that bar an individual from getting the money. In addition to this, the income that they will receive is a supplement to their total income which means that under this system, individuals have an option to work or not.

At the heart of the proposals for UBI is the prevention of poverty in certain countries which is why it is highly suited in regions like Africa where poverty is rampant.

This is why Eight, a charity founded in 2015, is conducting a pilot study in an undisclosed village in the Fort Portal region of Uganda. This will start on January 2017 with the aim of finding out the impact of basic income on four areas namely: education participation of girls and women, access to health care, engagement in democratic institutions, and local economic development. The amount of basic income that will be distributed is approximately 30 percent of the Uganda’s average income for low-income families which will amount to 18.25 USD per month for adults and 9.13 USD for children.

Testing the Waters

The study will run its course for about 2 years, after which the results will be published and a documentary will be created by filmmaker Steven Janssens called “Village One.”

This pilot study is one of many that are being planned out around the world. Finland has already started to give out basic income to its residents with the same goal of reducing poverty. Ontario, Canada and Oakland, California are also starting to plan out their own programs.

Whatever the results may be, the discussion on the viability of a basic income will surely shape the years to come, especially when it comes to the increasing use of automation in our lives.