Rigmar Osterkamp's article „Lessons from failure“ (D+C/E+Z 2013/05, p. 216f) has triggered criticism. Several people were involved in the BIG project in Namibia provided corrections to put the record straight.

As former leaders of the Basic Income Grant pilot project in Namibia and co-authors of the related research reports we wish to correct several false claims made by Mr. Osterkamp.

Mr. Osterkamp claims that the project did not cooperate with economists engaged in empirical research. This is incorrect. The Namibian research team was accompanied by three professors of international standing. All three are professors of economics with many years of experience in empirical research and long lists of academic publications.  They are Professor Nicoli Nattrass from the University of Cape Town and Yale, Professor Mike Samson from Williamstown in the USA and Professor Guy Standing from the University of Bath in the UK.

Mr. Osterkamp’s claims regarding the funding of the BIG pilot project are equally false. The pilot project was financed from various private and public sources. The funds came from different countries and not only from Germany. The Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation did not contribute to BIG payments in Otjivero. The Protestant Church in Rhineland mainly donated money raised in an offering. It is a distortion of facts to argue that Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development was somehow "indirectly" involved in the financing of the BIG.

In his attack on the BIG pilot, project Mr. Osterkamp refers to his own analysis, published in a NEPRU Quarterly Review in 2008. As pointed out by the BIG Coalition at the time, Mr Osterkamp’s analysis was methodologically flawed.  Mr Osterkamp erred in using arithmetic averages for his poverty assessment, which led to his false conclusion that there were poor households in Namibia but not in Otjivero. NEPRU admitted to this serious methodological flaw in a press release of 5 December 2008 and withdrew the review containing Mr. Osterkamp’s analysis.

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