A southern region in Italy has offered to give €700 (N276,635) per month to newcomers for three years accruing to about €25,000 (N9,879,852) to live in one of its villages.
According to them, the village must have fewer than 2,000 residents, and the newcomer must pledge to open a business.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” Donato Toma, the president of Molise, told the Guardian UK. “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.”
Toma also announced that each town with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants would receive €10,000 (N3,951,941) per month with which it would build infrastructure and promote cultural activities.
“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,” he said.
According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat), Molise, with a population of 305,000, is among the regions that has lost more inhabitants in recent years – in excess of 9,000 have left since 2014.
Over 2,800 inhabitants died or moved to another area in 2018, nearly 1,000 more than the year before. None of his cities have recorded a single birth. According to Istat, the amount of Italian citizens residing in Italy has dropped for the first time in 90 years to about 55 million.
In 2014-18 the number of Italian citizens resident in the country fell by 677,000. Two factors are behind the decline, according to experts: a decrease in births, which is at an all-time low since the unification of Italy, and an increase in the migration of young people to other European countries in search of job opportunities.
In 2018, Istat said, nearly 157,000 individuals left the nation. Italy is the only significant European economy whose population in the next five years is anticipated to decrease further, the UN said.
It ranks second behind Japan as the country with the greatest proportion of older people, with an estimated 168.7 over-65s for every 100 young people, according to Guardian UK report.
In an effort to resuscitate these cities, several mayors have opened the gates of their empty homes to asylum seekers who crossed the Mediterranean from Libya, such as the one in Sutera, in the province of Caltanissetta in Sicily.
Others, like Sambuca, who are determined to do whatever it takes to survive, have embraced a approach that has become fashionable in the South: to sell, or offer, deserted homes to anyone who wants to move in. A house’s symbolic price is only €1.