Paul Niehaus is undertaking a radical experiment. His organization, Give Directly, wants to find out would happen if people living in extreme poverty were offered the guarantee of a basic income for ten to 15 years. They plan on launching an experiment in East Africa in which 6,000 people would be given, with no strings attached, enough money to pay for their basic needs over a long period of time.

Senior Field Officer Mike Otieno withdraws cash at an Mpesa kiosk in Kogelo on 23 October 2014

Senior Field Officer Mike Otieno withdraws cash at an Mpesa kiosk in Kogelo on 23 October 2014

The idea they seek to test is called the Universal Basic Income. There are some communities around the world that offer this in some form, but never before has this idea been tested over an extended period of time in the developing world.

Give Directly announced this new experiment a few weeks  ago and it’s caught the attention of the international development community and those of us in the media who follow these things. Paul explains what they hope to accomplish with this experiment, how it will actually work, and what implications it has for the global effort to combat extreme poverty.

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