An underpopulated southern Italian region is offering people €700 (GHC 4251) per month for three years accruing to about €25,000 (GHC151,849) to live in its villages.
The region of Molise, one of Italy’s smallest and least famous regions, is offering newcomers a bounty to settle in villages that are in danger of dying out.
This is in a bid to reverse the effects of decades of depopulation, which has left many villages bereft of inhabitants.
Molise is squeezed between the mountainous Abruzzo region and Puglia – the heel of the Italian boot. It is so little known that there is a joke among Italians that “Molise non esiste” – Molise does not exist.
According to The Guardian UK, newcomers including Nigerian migrants will be given €700 per month to stay in the villages, but there’s a catch.
Interested persons must pick a village with less than 2,000 residents. They must also pledge to start a business to help revitalize the village economy.
However, there is no shortage of places to choose from. Of the region’s 136 villages, more than 100 now have populations of less than 2,000.
Molise president Donato Toma told the Guardian, “We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture.”
He added that the undersized cities of Molise will also be awarded €10,000 per month to rebuild crumbling infrastructure and support local culture.
“It’s not just a matter of increasing the population. People also need infrastructure and a reason to stay, otherwise, we’ll end up back where we started in a few years,” said Toma.
The initiative will be funded with €1 million from Italy’s ministry of economic development.
Approved by the regional government, details will be published in an official gazette on September 16. Prospective candidates will then have 60 days in which to apply.