Information and news on Brazil

Food Insecurities Decrease Around Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America. It also has the largest economy, which has been a key contributor to agriculture and business all over Latin America. Even with improvements in income distribution, poverty remains widespread, as income inequality remains an unsolved issue at the root of rural poverty. Thirty-five percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day, which is a reason for the food insecurity in Brazil. Additionally, 19 percent of Brazil’s population lives in rural areas, which means that Brazil has 18 million poor rural people. Meanwhile, the country’s northeast region has the single largest concentration of rural poverty in Latin America. In this region alone, 58 percent of the total population and 67 percent of the rural population live in poverty.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is an important subtopic coinciding with global poverty. When someone is food insecure, it means that they lack access to enough safe and nutritious food to give them the growth and development necessary to be active and in good health. Food insecurity might include a lack of resources or availability altogether.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has implemented the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) which explains the differences between the following categories:

  • Food Security to Mild Food Insecurity is uncertainty regarding the ability to obtain food.
  • Moderate Food Insecurity is the reduced quality and/or quantity of food, as well as uncertainty about how to obtain food due to little or no money or other resources. Moderate food insecurity can also lead to malnutrition. An example of this is stunting in children, which is where they do not have adequate nutrition for necessary growth and physical development. Micronutrient deficiencies are another hazard where children do not receive enough nourishment to give them the proper nutrients they require for growth.
  • Severe Food Insecurity is when one has simply run out of food, and at the most, has gone a number of days without eating.

How Fome Zero Has Decreased Food Insecurity

Brazil, which is the largest country in South America, has been able to combat food insecurity, along with poverty, through government spending on social welfare programs. For instance, one way that poverty and food insecurities have decreased around Brazil is through Fome Zero or Zero Hunger. It launched in 2003 under President Lul da Silva and has been successful in leading the nation out of poverty and improving its food security conditions. Fome Zero has been able to provide meals that have nutritious value and can support the poor’s overall health in order to combat food insecurity in Brazil.

Stunting and Food Insecurity

From the standpoint of public policy, the program has also implemented other ways of protection for those under the poverty line. These include providing not only meals and overall health improvement but also education reform, food production, health services, water, sanitation services and the prevention of growth stunting in children under the age of 5. Stunting has resulted in malnutrition, impaired cognitive ability and declining school performance later on in their lives. With Fome Zero as a premiere social-welfare program, stunting has also declined by almost 20 percent in the last quarter-century. From 1996 to 2007, stunting reduced by half from 14 percent to 7 percent.

These improvements happened because of optimal breastfeeding practices, ensuring a child’s healthy growth and development. Initiating breastfeeding for six months provides protection against gastrointestinal infections, which can lead to severe nutrient depletion, causing the process of stunting to begin. Setting a daily diet and schedule for children, as well as diversity in diet, has improved their health and overall growth.

Stunting results from a household, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural standpoint that requires that interventions for better nutrition integrate in conjunction with nutrition-sensitive interventions. One example is that one can prevent infections by hand-washing with soap, the success of which depends on behavior change to adopt the practice, the availability of safe water and sanitation needs and the affordability of personal hygiene products. Available high-quality foods and affordability of nutrient-rich foods will affect a family’s ability to provide healthier foods to prevent stunting.

Bolsa Familia

Another program that da Silva started in 2003 is Bolsa Familia, or Family Allowance, which has helped decrease poverty and food insecurity in Brazil. The conditional cash transfer program supplies low-income families with a minimum level of income. However, there are two stipulations that go with the deal: their children must attend school daily and they must schedule doctor’s appointments in order to receive aid from the government. More than 20 percent of Brazil’s global domestic program went towards education, health care and protection for all low-income families. From 2003 to 2013, the extreme poverty line population has decreased from 9.7 percent to 4.3, with Bolsa Familia reaching 14 million households, equaling 50 million people. As such, many consider the program to be the most successful in the world.

More than 50 million people receive payments from the program. This depends on family earnings that range from $14 to $140, whether people work part-time or full-time, as well as the number of dependents. As the largest conditional cash transfer in the world, Bolsa Familia reaches more than a quarter of the nation’s population and has lifted more than half out of poverty.

BF has also started a trend globally that has expanded conditional cash transfer programs, alongside Latin America, where over 40 countries have adopted this model to aid those on the poverty line and who are food insecure. Brazil’s next step to put a halt to poverty included the Brazil Learning Initiative for a World without Poverty (WWP), launched in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, Ipea and UNDP’s International Policy Center in 2013. The Initiative helped support continuous innovation.

The endgame of these program developments is to sustain, if not overachieve, in providing aid to families in Brazil. The levels of success and vast improvements of these programs have helped the country come close to eradicating food insecurity in Brazil, as well as poverty.

Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and a key player in the international sphere. Despite its power and influence, there are still human rights issues prevalent in Brazil’s population. Human trafficking affects a significant portion of the 211 million people living in the country. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Due to recent urbanization in Brazil, many industries, such as textile companies, are exploiting undocumented workers, especially those from neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. Undocumented workers are not the only victims of human trafficking in Brazil, however, as women and children are in situations of forced labor or prostitution. Between the years of 2010 and 2017, Brazil had over 500 cases of forced sexual exploitation, stemming from the country’s severe income inequality. Since 2005, Brazil’s government has made efforts to reduce the income gap, but since over 70 percent of those in forced labor situations are illiterate, these efforts have yet to impact the high rates of human trafficking in Brazil.
  2. Traffickers are taking women from their homes in small villages. The NGO Rede Um Grito pela Vida, which translates to A Cry for Life Network, reports that criminal organizations are taking females from their homes in small villages along the Amazon. The traffickers tell these women that they will have a better life involving work or education. Furthermore, criminal organizations usually move them to other Brazilian cities. The traffickers commonly place these women into roles of forced sexual exploitation.
  3. The U.S. Department of State has commended the efforts of the Brazilian government in its work towards ending human trafficking in the country. Such work includes convicting more traffickers, investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases and identifying more victims of “trabalho escravo,” or unpaid labor. Although each state’s reported data varies, Brazil remains a “tier 2” country, meaning that it is working in the right direction, but still has a long way to go to decrease human trafficking at an effective rate.
  4. In 2019, Brazilian authorities brought down a human trafficking ring that specifically targetted transgender women. At least 38 transgender women were working in brothels in the state of Sao Paulo, where traffickers were holding them due to the debts they owed for undergoing illegal transitional surgeries. The importance of this case involves the distinction between sex work and the exploitation of sex workers. Sex work is legal in Brazil. However, the exploitation of sex workers blurs the line between human trafficking and legal employment.
  5. The Ministry of Labor implemented the use of “Special Mobile Inspection Groups” with the aim of spotting forced labor in rural areas. It does this by performing unannounced inspections in farms and factories. Between the years of 1995 and 2017, there have been over 53,000 successful rescues of forced laborers in Brazil through the efforts of these inspection groups.
  6. According to the Digital Observatory of Slavery Labour in Brazil, government agencies rescued over 35,000 people from slave labor between 2003 and 2017. The Federal Police performed many of the rescue missions in the form of raids on groups that utilize human trafficking. These raids, in particular, focused individuals who had to provide labor for no cost to their captors.
  7. Although there are many kinds of human trafficking, a common type of modern slavery inside Brazil is forced labor. Forced labor is prevalent in rural areas. It focuses on industries that require field labor, such as cattle ranching, coffee production and forestry. About 7 million domestic workers in Brazil are victims of forced labor. This means they work long hours, suffer abuse and receive little to no pay.
  8. There are many NGOs working to provide legal and social assistance to victims of human trafficking in Brazil and its neighboring countries. The GLO.ACT, an initiative that the E.U. and the U.N. support, began its efforts in Nicaragua, and since then expanded to providing assistance to over 100 participants from NGOs and government agencies in Brazil. In addition, it provides missions in Brazil where participants can visit cities and help vulnerable migrants find shelter, all while creating awareness about the issue of human trafficking.
  9. The U.S. Department of State’s 2019 trafficking report outlines the role of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) in combatting human trafficking. The DPF has a unit in every state in Brazil that investigates most trafficking crimes. Although law enforcement at all levels lacks sufficient funding and staffing, the support of international organizations and foreign governments is supplementing this deficit.
  10. Traffickers often trick undocumented migrants into entering Brazil under the false pretense that they will live in the U.S. The traffickers then either force those migrants into human trafficking rings or dangerous journeys from Brazil up to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. is taking legal action in response to these crimes and prosecuting human traffickers through its judicial system when their crimes cross the U.S. border.

 Although these 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil present startling statistics, there remains a beacon of hope surrounding the topic. Brazil’s government is taking steps towards advancing the legal protection of human rights in the country, such as ratifying the United Nations Palermo Protocol. International human trafficking is an issue that requires support from various sectors, especially from governments and their agencies. Through international support and awareness, facts about human trafficking in Brazil may replace with more positive statistics. Overall, the work of NGOs, foreign aid and the Brazilian government continues to generate progress in the fight against human trafficking.

Ariana Davarpanah
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Fastest Developing CountriesThe world economy is changing every day due to trade investments, inflation and rising economies making a greater impact than ever before. Improvements in these economies have been due to significant government reforms within these countries as well as the administration of international aid through financial and infrastructural efforts. These are the top five fastest developing countries in no particular order.

Top Five Fastest Developing Countries

  1. Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Argentina is actually considered a developing country. Argentina’s economy was strong enough to ensure its citizens a good quality of life during the first part of the 20th century. However, in the 1990s, political upheaval caused substantial problems in its economy, resulting in an inflation rate that reached 2,000 percent. Fortunately, Argentina is gradually regaining its economic strength. Its GDP per capita just exceeds the $12,000 figure that most economists consider the minimum for developed countries. This makes Argentina one of the strongest countries in South America.
  2. Guyana. Experts have said that Guyana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It had a GDP of $3.63 billion and a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. If all goes according to plan, Guyana’s economy has the potential to grow up to 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent in 2020 and 2021. Its abundance in natural resources such as gold, sugar and rice are among the top leading exports worldwide. Experts also project that Guyana will become one of the world’s largest per-capita oil producers by 2025.
  3. India. As the second most populated country in the world, India has run into many problems involving poverty, overcrowding and a lack of access to appropriate medical care. Despite this, India has a large well-skilled workforce that has contributed to its fast-growing and largely diverse economy. India has a GDP rate of $2.7 trillion and a $7,859 GDP per capita rate.
  4. Brazil. Brazil is currently working its way out of one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As a result, its GDP growth has increased by 1 percent and its inflation rate has decreased to 2.9 percent. As Latin America’s largest economy, these GDP improvements have had a significant impact on pulling Latin America out of its economic difficulties. Additionally, investors have also become increasingly interested in investing in exchange-traded funds and large successful companies such as Petrobras, a large oil company in Brazil.
  5. China. Since China began reforming its economy in 1978, its GDP has had an average growth of almost 10 percent a year. Despite the fact that it is the world’s second-largest economy, China’s per capita income is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. About 373 million Chinese still live below the upper-middle-income poverty line. Overall, China is a growing influence on the world due to its successes in trade, investment and innovative business ventures.

This list of the five fastest developing countries sheds some light on the accomplishments of these nations as they build. As time progresses, many of these countries may change in status.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts about Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is known as the most developed country in Latin America. The country’s rapid economic growth, coupled with urbanization, is attracting more businesses to invest in Brazil. On top of this, Brazil’s strong tourism industry further bolsters the country’s positive image. However, the presence of human trafficking in Brazil is also a well-known fact throughout the international community. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Human trafficking in Brazil is linked to forced labor. The recent economic growth and accelerating urbanization in Brazil resulted in labor abuse of migrant workers. Textile, construction and sex industries are especially well known for abusing smuggled migrant workers. In 2013, the Brazilian police identified a Brazilian gang that specialized in trafficking Bangladeshi nationals into Brazil. These smuggled Bangladeshi workers lived in slavery-like conditions in order to pay off nearly $10,000 to their smugglers.
  2. The U.S. Department of State (USDOS) ranked Brazil as a “Tier 2” country. This signifies that the Brazilian government does not fully meet the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. USDOS does note, however, that the Brazilian government is making significant efforts to remedy the state of human trafficking in Brazil.
  3. Law 13.344 helps to protect and support victims of human trafficking in Brazil. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) maintained 12 posts at airports and bus stations known as transit points to identify cases. In addition, 17 out of 27 state governments operate anti-trafficking offices that introduce victims to social assistance centers.
  4. The Brazilian government’s definition of human trafficking needs to be improved. While Brazil’s Law 13.344/16 criminalizes all forms of human trafficking with harsh penalties for perpetrators, human trafficking in Brazil is defined as a movement-based crime. This is a limited definition compared to the U.N.’s definition, which states other forms of coercion or monetary persuasion as different forms of human trafficking
  5. The recent crisis in Venezuela leaves many Venezuelan migrants in danger of human trafficking in Brazil.
    The 2010 crisis in Venezuela created a massive exodus of migrants from Venezuela. These Venezuelan migrants in border cities and other parts of Brazil are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. Traffickers recruited these migrants in Brazil by offering them fraudulent job opportunities.
  6. Child sex tourism is still a major issue. When Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014, many authorities worried that this would worsen the country’s already present child sex industry. The influx of construction workers before the World Cup and an estimated 600,000 foreign visitors unintentionally creates a big market and demand for sex tourism in Brazil. Child sex workers are trafficked both domestically and internationally. In 2016, for example, the Brazilian police rescued eight children from the sex trafficking ring at the beaches near the main Olympic hub.
  7. In March 2019, the Brazilian police took down a trafficking ring that targeted transgender women. The Brazilian police rescued at least 38 transgender women from brothels in Ribeirao Preto, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. The traffickers lured these women in with a promise of paying for their transition surgeries. After the surgery, these women were forced into prostitution in order to pay back their traffickers.
  8. The US law enforcement collaborated with the Brazilian police to capture human traffickers in 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, cooperated with the Brazilian Federal Police (DOP) to capture three smugglers based in Brazil. The smugglers arranged travel for individuals through a network of smugglers operating in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and many other Latin American countries.
  9. The Brazilian Ministry of Labor (MTE) updated the “lista suja” in 2018 to combat human trafficking in Brazil. Lista suja, meaning “dirty list”, is a document that lists the names of companies that utilize labor that came from human trafficking. In 2018, the Brazilian government added 78 new employers to the list. The companies on the list cannot access credit by public and private financial institutions.
  10. The Brazilian Department of Labor is fighting forced labor through a special task force. Named
    Special Mobile Inspection Group (GEFM), the group was initiated in 1995. GEFM consists of labor inspectors and prosecutors. The group conducts unannounced inspections of factories, farms and firms. The Ministry of Labor reported that, through more than 600 inspections, the task force rescued more than 5000 workers from forced labor between 2013 and 2016.

Human trafficking in Brazil has many faces. Forced labor and prostitution are the main concerns of the Brazilian government when it is dealing with human trafficking in the country. It is clear that the Brazilian
government is striving to remedy the current situation. Laws such as the 13.344/16 help to protect and assist the victims of human trafficking while MTE’s Lista Suja aims to dissuade businesses from utilizing human trafficked labor. With these kinds of continued efforts, human trafficking in Brazil is sure to decrease.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Criminalization of Poverty in Rio
Brazil boasts the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the entire world and a lot of these arrests occur in the most urban areas of the country like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. These cities happen to be centers of diversity and culture, but also areas of extreme wealth disparity. The criminalization of poverty in Rio demonstrates the general poverty-crime cycle, where greater economic disadvantage and higher rates of incarceration lead to each other.

The Case of Rafael Braga Vieria

In 2013, the case of Rafael Braga Vieria became a landmark for the government of Rio’s less-than-neutral approach to making arrests at the time filled with mass demonstrations. Vieria was a homeless street cleaner carrying cleaning supplies. The authorities only arrested Vieria out of the 300,000 protesting that night. He received a five-year sentence on the grounds that he could have used the supplies to make a molotov cocktail.

Article 3 of Brazil’s constitution protects against this sort of discrimination against poverty, but at the same time, there is legislation allowing for drug offenses to receive judgment based on personal circumstances. For example, if the suspect came from a certain background, authorities could legally assume that they intended the drugs for personal use.

Life in Favelas

Usually, the poorer people in the area, living in favelas or poor neighborhoods, receive the worst of this treatment. The residents become targets for drug trafficking as well as scapegoats for the law. Rio de Janeiro’s favelas hold upwards of 1 million that face discrimination from the general public. In reality, violence is not an inherent part of favelas. It is a result of the system that allows them to exist in a state of such neglect. All of this leads to violence within the community and violence on behalf of the state. For instance, the police killed upwards of 600 people in 2015 alone. Around 75 percent of these deaths were black men.

Such high incarceration rates because of the criminalization of poverty in Rio often have other economic effects on the people most affected. Those living in favelas, disproportionately black families, receive evictions from their homes without reason. Between 2009 and 2013, the government forced around 20,000 families out of their homes with no compensation. In addition, many low-income families felt the impact of having one person incarcerated for a long time, especially if the person was the wage-earner of the family. Not only does this criminalization of poverty in Rio make life more difficult in the moment, but it also opens the door for further turning towards crime and violence.

Today

The percentage of people living in poverty is rising after the boom of the 2016 Olympics. Unemployment has risen, as well as the other byproducts of poverty, but many organizations are working to make a difference in Rio. Habitat for Humanity has helped almost 20,000 families find houses outside of these favelas, but people can always do more. Investing in other aid organizations, especially local ones, would be necessary to improve living conditions, thereby decreasing the criminalization of poverty in Rio and Brazil as a whole.

Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Overpopulation in Brazil

Overpopulation in Brazil has resulted in a widening gap with respect to age, gender and well-being for a large percentage of its populace.​ Around one-fourth of Brazil’s population suffer from inadequate housing. While efforts are underway to change the status quo, there is still much to be done in order to control important overpopulation factors. These are the 10 facts about overpopulation in Brazil.

10 Facts About Overpopulation in Brazil

  1. Population total: Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world — equivalent to nearly 3 percent of the total world population. It is estimated that the population of Brazil will reach 225 million by 2025, an increase from 200 million.
  2. Population based on region: More than 80 million people are concentrated in Southeast Brazil. The second-largest populated area is the Northeast with over 53 million inhabitants. The third-largest populated area is the South which ranks in at over 27 million people. The North and Central-West regions have the least population.
  3. Population by age: The birth rate in Brazil has changed since the 50s and 60s and shows a decrease, with an average of fewer than two children per couple. Due to a decrease in mortality, the number of adults and the elderly are greater than the number of children. Children 14 and under make up 21.3 percent of Brazil’s population. Nearly 80 percent of Brazil’s total population are between the ages of 15 and 64. Of note, life expectancy has increased from 66 years in the 90s to 73 years in 2010.
  4. Population by gender: There are slightly more women than men with 51 percent of Brazilians being female and 49 percent being men; however, women are still struggling to find equality. Women, on average, earn 23 percent less than men, even if they have a higher education.
  5. Most costly city: With a population of more than 12 million, Sao Paulo is the most expensive city in South America and the 27th most costly in the world. One-quarter of San Paulo’s population is living in poverty. To have a comfortable life in Sao Paulo, it is estimated that citizens make around $1,500 per person; however, the average salary is $675 per month.
  6. Housing deficit: More than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate housing conditions. Pernambuco has the highest housing deficit in Brazil. Of those who lack satisfactory housing, 66 percent live below the poverty line and have limited to no access to banking facilities. It is estimated that Brazil has a housing deficit between 6 and 8 million houses, with the greatest need being in the southeast and northeast.
  7. Organizations that help: Habitat for Humanity is one group that is working toward solving the housing crisis. The organization helps people living in San Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other small cities. Habitat for Humanity provides aid by building new homes, repairing homes and improving access to sanitation. In San Paulo, 100 people will have their houses improved by Habitat for Humanity through community projects. Habitat for Humanity is in the process of building more than 1,600 houses in Pernambuco.
  8. Sanitation: Around 4 million of Brazil’s population lack access to safe water. Inadequate sanitation plagues 24 million of Brazil’s populous. In addition to a  clean water deficit, 45 percent of the population lacks adequate sewage which caused approximately 35 percent of Brazilian cities to break out in disease due to poor sanitation.
  9. WaterCredit to the rescue: Water.org helped establish WaterCredit as a solution to Brazil’s sanitation woes. Loans of $2.2 million have been disbursed by its partners, benefitting 9,000 people in Brazil to date. Water.org is in the process of certifying other financial institutions with the goal of expanding its reach in Brazil.

A lack of sanitation and housing are just a few consequences of Brazil’s overpopulation issue. However, by empowering women and supporting organizations that help aid in financial and social equality, Brazil’s population could see an end to the issues that its overpopulation has caused.

– Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr

Brazil’s Economic Recession
Brazil began the 21st century on an almost exclusively positive note. Before Brazil’s economic recession, people included it in the same conversation as Russia, India, China and South Africa, leaders of the developing world and countries poised to make considerable economic gains in the decades to come. The first years of the 2000s reinforced that perception, as Brazil’s economy continued to grow and expand. This prompted a bid for both the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympic Games. In 2007, FIFA granted Brazil the event, and in 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced Rio de Janeiro as the host for the 2016 Games.

Economic Depression

These highly visible international events combined with the emergence of Brazil in the international arena seemed to legitimize the country’s efforts. However, after Dilma Rousseff took over for the highly popular Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, government spending ballooned, partly due to the infrastructure required to host international sporting events. Under her direction, Brazil suffered its worst economic depression on record.  The government’s spending, combined with mismanagement of inflation, a decrease in consumer spending and the sharp decline in oil prices in 2015, produced a two-year slide that embodied Brazil’s economic recession, and poverty naturally increased as a result of all of these factors.

 This sharply contrasts with the efforts that Lula da Silva undertook to mitigate poverty and economic hardship as the leader of Brazil’s Workers’ Party, lifting 36 million people out of poverty. In a resounding success for him and Rousseff, by 2014, unemployment reached its record low, the U.N. removed Brazil from its Hunger Map, and the number of people living during Brazil’s Economic Recession in poverty dropped to 5.2 million. In 2017, however, more than 14 million people found themselves homeless and in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank’s definition of less than $1.90 U.S. a day. The situation was more grave than just poverty and homelessness, as a study conducted between 2012 and 2017 intimately linked the effects of Brazil’s economic recession and poverty with adult mortality. It found that there was an uncanny correlation between the state unemployment rate and the mean municipal mortality rate.

Reasons for Brazil’s Economic Recession

How did a country with such promise and success completely reverse course and regress so quickly, resulting in Brazil’s economic recession and poverty? Dilma Rousseff increased public spending upon entering office in 2011, raising the minimum wage and promoting expanded lending by the state’s banks. Simultaneously, the central bank’s discount rate dropped, sparking inflation which Rousseff exacerbated by cutting sales tax and lowering prices on food, gasoline and bus fares. One entity hurt most by this was Petrobras, the Brazilian state-run oil company, as investments stalled. Rousseff boosted wages to combat inflation, but this did not work. Inflation outpaced wages and resulted in inhibited consumer spending. When oil prices fell in 2015, the dollar strengthened and companies cut production and jobs as the currency-the real-collapsed, increasing the expense of imports and further raising inflation. To make matters even worse, Brazil experienced a political crisis in the midst of this, as the government impeached Dilma Rousseff for improperly moving government funds between budgets, and threw Lula da Silva in jail for corruption.

Looking Forward

The peak of the crisis came in 2017, and the economy recovered to its 2014 level, but experts caution against optimism. A BBC article in May 2019 identified four things wrong with the Brazilian economy, recession and poverty. It said that no economic recovery lies on the horizon, unemployment still runs rampant at 12.7 percent, the election of Jair Bolsonaro did not bring the anticipated market rally and the fiscal deficit still grows. It looked in May like the worst would occur, as the country’s Gross Domestic Product shrank by 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019, even though it aligned with the forecasted 0.5 percent annual growth.

 Much to the relief of many, the second quarter provided a rebound of 0.4 percent, a surprise to those most knowledgeable in Brazil. Little consolation came to President Bolsonaro, though, as his reform agenda did not produce the immediate results he had hoped. Still, his administration intends to focus on reforms to pensions and the government’s overall structure, to the praise of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF said that these reforms could boost the Brazilian GDP by 2.4 percent in 2020 and that Brazil could make more improvements with an opening of the country’s tariff and non-tariff barriers and a commitment to closing the infrastructure gap. Reuters agrees that the future of Brazil as an economy and emerging market hinges on fiscal reforms, that will hopefully put the last five years of Brazil’s economic recession and poverty behind them and return to the pace that Lula and Rousseff set.

– Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

Innovation Capabilities
Innovation is essential for countries to develop, but there are countless barriers to innovation capabilities. Innovation capabilities are the parts of a production process that people cannot buy but are critical to supporting and driving innovation. Companies must learn and develop these elements. These elements include basic organizational skills, human resource management, planning routines and logistical abilities.

The Importance of Innovation

Without innovation, companies cannot evolve and be sustainable. This, in turn, impacts the progress of whole countries. A lack of innovation leads to people being unable to leverage their resources.

According to the World Bank, many developing countries suffer from low innovation. Low innovation includes the following:

  1. Weaker managerial and technological capabilities and the lack of ability to cultivate them.
  2. Weaker government capabilities.
  3. A general lack of physical, human and knowledge capital.
As a result, developing countries often have a difficult time progressing through innovation. In 1900, many now developed countries were in a similar state to developing countries today. These developed countries were able to capitalize on their innovation capabilities and successfully manage new technologies. This is what developing countries must now do to progress.

Innovative Examples

There are several examples of how developed countries have capitalized on innovation, compared to those still developing:

  1. Brazil was able to upgrade technologically after a slump in its iron industry.
  2. Japan took its textile technologies and modified them for the needs of different locales. It also diversified into machinery, chemicals, cables, metals and banking. This enabled Japan to establish its first leading manufacturing industry.
  3. The United States leveraged its copper resources. It pushed the frontiers of metallurgy and chemistry through a combination of high-level human capital and a network of universities and laboratories.

Developing countries, however, have had trouble reaching the same goals. While Norway was able to leverage its oil and gas deposits with its high-tech sector, Nigeria was not. Spain and Chile were unable to successfully identify and adopt new advances in mining and metallurgy for their copper industries. This eventually leads to these country’s selling out to foreign interests who could.

Production Capabilities: Management and Government

Two subsets of capabilities directly impact innovation including production and technology. Production includes management and government, while technology includes incentives and the environment.

Management focuses on the organization and maintenance of a company. Developing countries tend to have weaker managerial capabilities than developed countries. In these developing countries, managers tend to not have as much education. This greatly impacts their capabilities to properly identify and understand high-return on potential projects, take responsibility for long-term planning and implement new talent.

Limited competition can prop up inefficient companies. A lack of government support, however, makes it difficult for more efficient companies to effectively incentivize their workforce and upgrade their technologies.

A country’s productivity can illustrate an example of the effects of different management practices. There is a 25 percent difference in productivity between developing countries and those in the United States.

Governments organize and support how effectively companies run. In developing countries, governments generally do not have enough human resources or they are unable to efficiently organize policies. The organization, design and implementation of these policies help to rectify market or systemic failures and promote innovation.

These capabilities are the rationale and designing of a policy, efficacy of implementation, comprehensibility for the National Innovation System (NIS) and consistency. Most developing countries, however, are unable to meet these requirements.

Technology and Innovation: Organization and Environment

Governments and management often work to organize companies. It is the organization of the company itself, however, that allows it to implement and expand new technologies. Companies must incentivize workers so they can receive the tasks that make them the most productive. This also empowers workers to brainstorm new ideas and improvements for products or systems.

This type of organization creates an innovation-friendly environment for the company. These incentives show positive influences on creativity and innovation in workers and the company as a whole.

An example of innovation at work is the Aquafresh company in Ghana. It dealt with fierce competition from Asia, eventually discovering that the best way to confront this competition was not to address it at all. Aquafresh started as a clothing company but later reinvented itself, turning to soft drinks. This was possible due to its innovation-friendly environment and organization. This environment eased the transition and sustained them through the change.

Solutions for the Barriers to Innovation Capabilities

Adopting better managerial and organizational practices can push companies to innovate in products, processes and quality. This can also inspire companies to create innovative projects, which can lead to new products and technologies.

Access to human, knowledge and technological capabilities increases a developing country’s innovation potential. This renders foreign aid less important as the countries learn to become self-sustainable.

Companies in developing countries need help with overcoming the barriers to innovation capabilities. If the National Innovation System could focus on supporting companies with better capabilities, investing in higher-level human capital and management and the development of capable governments, a larger innovation system could come into fruition for developing countries. This, in turn, would benefit the entire world.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Brazil
With a population of over 200 million people, Brazil stands as one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Its large population begs a simple question; does Brazil have an adequate amount of resources, including clean water, to support its people? Unfortunately, sanitation in Brazil is far from ideal, but the good news is that the country’s access to clean water has been steadily improving since 2010. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in Brazil.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Brazil

  1. Sewage Treatment: According to a Forbes article from early 2015, only around 47 percent of people in Brazil had access to sewage services and only 63 percent of the sewage was treated. This means that Brazil collected and treated less than 30 percent of the sewage that its residents produced.
  2. Urban Sewage Collection: In terms of the urban population in Brazil, around 55 percent had access to sewage collection. Meanwhile, less than 35 percent actually received sewage treatment.
  3. Unequal Water and Sanitation Access: Though it has about a fifth of the world’s water supply, there is unequal access to water and sanitation in Brazil. Only 43 percent of the poorest 40 percent of the population had access to toilets that connect to the country’s sanitation networks in 2013.
  4. Industrial Effluents: According to the World Bank in 2016, Brazil found industrial effluents, such as heavy metals, in bodies of water. As a result, surrounding rivers are unsafe sources for water and this has forced cities around the region to find water from distant basins and wells. The World Bank also stated that the expected growth of industrial complexes would likely worsen this problem in the near future.
  5. Wealth Inequality: In 2014, the top 20 cities for sanitation in Brazil reportedly spent twice as much as the 10 worst cities, meaning that a key source of the sanitation problems plaguing Brazil is wealth inequality. In 2017, Brazil was also reportedly behind poorer countries like Peru and Bolivia in terms of how sanitary it is.
  6. National Public Sanitation Plan: Brazil established a National Public Sanitation Plan over a decade ago in order to provide 93 percent of Brazilian houses with a proper sewage system and a safe water supply. According to The Brazilian Report, however, it may take until 2050 for it achieve its goal.
  7. Deforestation: In 2017, reports showed that Sao Paulo is in danger of devastating water shortages as a result of deforestation in the Amazon forest. As a result of this, the mayor of Sao Paulo issued a statement about the importance of preserving the rainforest and promoting recycling.
  8. Water Shortages: In 2014-2015, Sao Paulo faced a severe drought that led to the declaration of a state of calamity. In cities like Itu, the water shortage became so bad that people fought over and looted emergency water trucks and some communities resorted to using buckets from swimming pools in order to flush their toilets.
  9. Safe Water and Sanitation: According to Water.org, there are currently around 4 million people in Brazil who do not have access to safe water. Meanwhile, there are around 24 million people who do not have proper sanitation.
  10. The WaterCredit Solution: In 2014, Brazil became an important country for the expansion of Water.org’s WaterCredit solution. This solution aims to offer improvements regarding water and sanitation in Brazil through a collaboration with local partners and financial institutions. According to the Water.org website, this program has reached 9,000 people, and its partners dispursed $2.2 million in loans.

In general, the key takeaway is that despite its fairly large economy, sanitation in Brazil has a long way to go. Due to its large population, organizations like Water.org and the National Public Sanitation Plan will need to do significant work in order to ensure that Brazil will evenly distribute water and sanitation among its citizens.

– Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr