Information and news on Brazil

Facts About BRACThe Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) is a non-governmental organization founded in Bangladesh in 1972. It is surprisingly obscure despite its impacts. These are 10 facts about BRAC that are necessary to understand more about the organization.

10 Facts About BRAC

  1. BRAC is the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in the world. The Economist described it as “the largest, fastest-growing non-governmental organization in the world–and one of the most businesslike.”
  2. BRAC’s mission is to alleviate poverty and encourage economic participation by empowering people through social and economic programs.
  3. Founder Fazle Hasan Abed created BRAC after becoming disillusioned with poverty in Bangladesh. Now, BRAC has a positive impact in the poorest Asian and African countries in the world, reaching an estimated 138 million people.
  4. BRAC is funded by the Omidyar Network, which invests in impactful NGOs to bring about social change. This allows BRAC’s programs to be very effective and far-reaching.
  5. In 2016, BRAC successfully put 400,000 young children in primary school, gave 90 percent of households in obscure locations healthcare and lifted 86,975 households in Bangladesh out of extreme poverty.
  6. BRAC uses its money wisely. It was awarded an AAA rating by the Credit Rating Agency of Bangladesh Ltd (CRAB). This is the highest rating that it could have received from CRAB.
  7. BRAC approaches poverty differently than other NGOs. Using a businesslike approach, BRAC understands that there are factors beyond economics that account for why people are impoverished. BRAC tackles social issues and inequality as well as using its funds to ensure its impacts are more sustainable.
  8. BRAC has four main projects, including social development, social enterprises, investments and a university.
  9. BRAC University is in Dhaka, Bangladesh and is modeled after the NGO. It fosters goodwill by encouraging students to work in careers involved with national development and progress post-graduation.
  10. BRAC enterprises allow individuals to break out of the chains of poverty by equipping them with the necessary tools needed to have a more profound participation in the economy. As a result, it has established many enterprises, one of which is BRAC Dairy, which has become Bangladesh’s top dairy producer and ensures fair prices and treatment for dairy workers. Another example of a BRAC enterprise is BRAC Sanitary Napkin and Delivery Kit, which produces feminine hygiene products to encourage women to stay in school, and home birth delivery kits to ensure that births are sanitary and safe.

These 10 facts about BRAC truly show how influential BRAC is as an NGO. Despite making such large strides already, BRAC does not foresee slowing down anytime soon. In 2021, it aims to empower 20 million individuals to get the services they need and help 110 million people in Bangladesh that are living in poverty.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

Water Pollution in BrazilThe 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro brought glaring international attention to the issue of water pollution in Brazil. Untreated sewage flows into coastal waters, particularly around Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the two largest cities in the country. Beaches are coated in trash, sand is reduced to a greasy sludge and the water is black and noxious.

In the weeks approaching the 2016 Games, the United Nations advised athletes to spend as little time in the water as possible, avoid swallowing water, cover cuts with waterproof bandages and to shower as soon as possible after exposure.

The reason for these extreme precautions was due to the massive amounts of raw, untreated sewage that is allowed to flow through the channels and into the Atlantic. The worst affected areas in Rio de Janeiro are in the northern part of the city, where the low-income favela communities are concentrated. In these neighborhoods, the government has invested inadequate resources into water systems and sewage treatment.

Foreigners are not the only ones wary of the water in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay. Locals know to not even dip their toes in, aware that they will likely get a disease from the sickening waters. It has been reported to contain high levels of bacteria and viruses that could likely lead to stomach and respiratory illnesses.

Water pollution in Brazil is not only a major health issue, but an environmental concern as well. Fishermen have seen major decreases in fish and wildlife populations in coastal regions. Where they used to catch six fish in an hour, they may now only catch one.

In response to the international criticism, the Brazilian government erected “eco-barriers” across streams and rivers to keep trash from floating into Guanabara Bay. However, not only are they ineffective, the eco-barriers inconvenienced the poor and disenfranchised local fishing communities, cutting off the water routes fishermen used to get to Guanabara Bay.

For many poor communities in Rio de Janeiro, fish are a vital resource for both food and income. Fish are used to feed families and are sold at the local market to buy essential goods like rice and beans. Guanabara Bay is a lifeline for many desperately poor families and the eco-barriers disturbed their access to that lifeline.

What is worse is that the eco-barriers did little to stem the flow of trash into Guanabara Bay, only collecting about 7.5 percent of the rubbish. The inefficiency of government initiatives like this only exacerbates and prolongs the crisis of water pollution in Brazil.

However, one initiative looks promising. Under the umbrella of the Clean Urban Delta Initiative is a proposed solution to help litter pickers get more value from plastic waste by providing a low-cost plastic shredder and molding machine that can make plastic statues or trinkets that could then be sold to tourists at iconic sites in Rio. Local people would be given the opportunity to earn significantly more money, and the government may find some relief from the problem of water pollution in Brazil.

– Sydney Lacey

Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Brazil
The biggest country in South America is dealing with one of the most drastic poverty issues on Earth. Despite billions of dollars invested in event tourism like the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016), Brazil’s economy has begun to spiral downward as the country faces its biggest decline in over a decade. These crucial facts about poverty in Brazil offer insight on the issues that plague them.

Poverty in Brazil

  1. The homeless population is revolutionary
    One of the recent facts about poverty in Brazil is that squatters there have collectively chosen to occupy abandoned hotels and are now facing the threat of eviction. One example is the Mauá Occupation, which houses over 1,000 people that make up around 237 families. Mauá was a unique idea back in 2007 when the homeless population was barely surviving on the streets and began taking up land by way of force. Now, it has become a full-blown movement. Like many countries, Brazil suffers from gentrification and increased living costs. Brazil’s gentrification has created a revolution of homeless people occupying space both as a protest and out of necessity. This past November, over 20,000 homeless marched throughout the city in direct protest of the housing inequity.
  2. Slavery ended only 130 years ago; inequality still devastating
    In 1888, Brazil became the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery, and the social, economic and moral ramifications of it still ripple throughout the nation. This is one of the more subtle and lesser spoken facts about poverty in Brazil because it reflects an ugly part of a recent history. Known as Afro-Brasileiros, black and brown Brazilians make up 51 percent of the nation’s population and suffer from discrimination and exclusion more than their lighter-skinned neighbors. Afro-Brasileiros also make up the majority of the homeless and poor population, and only seven percent of the city’s rich self-identify as such. Despite being known as a racial democracy, 80 percent of Brazil’s richest one percent are white, while only 13 percent of black and mixed-race Brazilians between 18 and 24 are currently enrolled in college. Afro-Brasileiro activism takes many forms; the Quilombos are descendants of slaves fighting for reparations. Another group focuses on the disproportions of blacks dying at the hands of Brazilian police. They have the slogan #VidasNegrasImportam, which translates to “Black Lives Matter.”
  3. New spending cap is making matters worse
    The new spending cap, known as PEC 55, will cut public spending for programs that help the poor. A U.N. official lauded it as the most socially regressive austerity package in the world. With 60 percent of Brazilians opposing it, the 20-year spending freeze inducted by President Temer has been protested and deemed a direct attack on the poor by many analysts.
  4. Unemployment was once slow growing; now it’s much faster
    Since the end of the World Cup in 2014, Brazil’s economy has been steadily declining to a new low. Unemployment grew from about six percent in December 2013 to nearly 12 percent in November 2016, despite almost 30 million Brazilians rising out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. Economic inequality is now expected to increase and around 2.5 million more Brazilians will be forced into poverty in the coming years.
  5. Water everywhere but not much to drink
    Roughly 20 percent of the world’s water supply is in Brazil yet much of the population suffers from a water shortage. The problem is that water is being used to power the economy, not the people. This is actually one of the older facts about poverty in Brazil, as the nation’s water misallocation has always been notoriously underserving. More than 60 percent of the nation’s energy is from hydropower plants while 72 percent of the water supply is consumed by agriculture via irrigation. In fact, Brazil is one of the most water-dependent nations in the world. More than eight percent of its GDP is agriculture and agroindustries, making it the world’s second-largest food exporter. Allocation of most of the nation’s water goes to the business sectors, and between 2004 and 2013, there was only a 10 percent increase in sanitation networks among the poorest 40 percent (i.e., households with toilets).
  6. From an emerging economy to a shrinking one
    Formerly an emerging economy growing at a rate of 7.5 percent in 2010, it shrunk at about the same rate over the last two years. Shrinkage is expected to increase due to President Temer’s privatization plan, and around 57 state assets are set to undergo a privatized makeover. From highways to airports and even the national mint, the privatization is in an effort to increase employment and improve quality of the service provided by the sectors. There is some proof that this could work; back in the 90s, the privatization lead to the considerable modernization of several crucial sectors. The best possible scenario still leaves the majority of the population, specifically the poorest, out of the financial loop.  Attracting international interests is great for the richest population looking to sell land to the highest bidder which happens to be China.
  7. Deforestation of the Amazon by China hurts locals directly
    China’s overwhelming demand for food meets Brazil’s immense agricultural production in a way that primarily benefits the wealthiest of Brazil. The Brazilian government has been selling off large parts of the Amazon to China directly, ironically in an effort to help China’s pollution while hurting Brazil’s sensitive ecology and economy. China’s deforestation of the Amazon temporarily increases employment in Brazilian cities near the forest, but then once first stages of production are over, massive layoffs result in a plummet of employment with the social climate (increased crime and violence) going with it. The massive deforestation even threatens Brazil’s ecological promises involved with the Paris Agreement.
  8. Infant mortality has dropped significantly but could be lower
    As of 2016, Brazil has significantly lowered it’s infant mortality rate from about 53 deaths per 1,000 (circa 1990) live births to about 14. While this is quite an achievement for such a developing country with so many social problems, UNICEF, the organization most responsible for helping the decline, remarked that the indigenous children of Brazil’s mortality rate is twice as high as those of city-born children. This shows that even for countries with relatively low levels of mortality, greater efforts to reduce disparities at the sub-national level are still needed. According to UNICEF, back in 2013 at least 32 municipalities still had an infant mortality rate of 80 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  9. Worker’s Unions are going extinct
    A recent law passed by President Temer allows employers to bypass nearly all hurdles set up by unions by eliminating a “union tax” that generates funding for worker’s unions. Designed to aid multinational corporations and not workers, the “reform” has been criticized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as being in violation of international conventions. This permits inhumane working conditions and legalizes free labor. Legislation changes like this alter the future of the Brazilian workforce exponentially as multinational companies begin their migration into the Amazon.
  10. The right conditions for slavery
    Temer altered the definition of slavery so that it is defined by the victim’s freedom to leave. Meaning if a worker is kept in all the same living conditions as slavery, but not being physically forced to stay, it is to be considered legal labor. This is an emerging fact about poverty in Brazil because it has not happened yet, but legislatively, the absurd conditions do exist and the threat of slave labor is very real. This critical alteration of the definition has lead to the need for deeper investigations and, in alignment with the new changes, requires a police report with every case, creating more complications with each case. This drastically hurts the effectiveness of the ILOs ongoing fight against slavery which saw the liberation of more than 30,000 slaves in Brazil since 2003. The migration of businesses to the Amazon has made investigations much harder for the ILO and the conditions under which slaves work have gotten more brutal as well.

– Toni Paz
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Brazil
For the projected Fiscal Year 2018 budget, the United States is allotting $815,000 to Brazil. This budgetary decision is planned to further a partnership with the government of Brazil in improving regional stability through security and law-enforcement, progress in medical care and increasing environmental coordinating and military training. In addition to these improved Brazilian conditions, there will be U.S. benefits that come from foreign aid to Brazil.

A Fruitful Partnership

This budget will assist the Ministry of Health in creating an AIDs-free future population. Funding from this budget will also address military protection to combat transnational crime through advancements in the rule of law and counterterrorism programs.

The two countries also opened dialogues addressing other concerns regarding climate change. Previous signing in 2015 of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on Climate Change, and the USAID-GOB Development Objective Agreement on Biodiversity Conservation signed in 2014, focuses on biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.

This partnership that enables the countries to address current issues is one way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Brazil.

Since The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil’s independence in 1822, the two countries have a long history of working together to expand economic growth, support human rights and improve defense and security.

Shared Interests

The countries have shared development in education, energy, health, science and technology. Due to previous foreign aid, Brazil has bolstered itself into a position of economic growth that has enabled it to import U.S. goods and export to the U.S. while also supplying foreign aid to other developing countries.

Combatting the Zika Virus

There are also large efforts being taken between the U.S. government and the government of Brazil to address and fight the Zika virus. USAID and Brazil are also looking to further development in other countries, particularly African and Latin America, as well as provide food security through agriculture development and productivity in Haiti, Honduras and Mozambique.

Trade and Tourism

Some other ways the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Brazil are through trade, business investments and tourism. Since 2003, Brazilian firms made large investments in the U.S., amounting to billions of dollars. These projects amounted to $2.5 billion in 2010 and, once they’re completed, will create 4,806 new jobs in a variety of different sectors.

Commerce with Brazil creates both small and large business ventures, with one being the WindStream company based out of New Albany, Illinois.

This partnership between the U.S. and Brazil promotes the growth of both economies through trade and provides economic durability. It furthers the advancements of both countries enabling the countries to supply aid to developing countries. The partnership between the U.S. and Brazil shows the benefits of foreign aid and the progression that continuous aid can provide to other countries.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr

Education Needs Driving Humanitarian Aid to BrazilBrazil has the fifth largest population on the globe. Despite its reputation for luxurious resorts, crystal waters and festivals, it still struggles to employ its residents. This is mainly due to a large social gap, where the richest 1 percent control 50 percent of the economy. “Chronic poverty”, or the idea that someone born into poverty has very slim chances of rising above it, is a huge factor. Humanitarian aid to Brazil is set to decrease these numbers.

Poverty in Brazil is attributed mostly to child abandonment. Mothers and fathers are leaving their children in the streets due to low incomes, health problems such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and a lack of resources for their other offspring. With the harsh conditions on the streets, few children live to see their 18th year.

There are roughly eight million impoverished children living in Brazil. Due to a lack of education and resources, they resort to street performing, thievery and begging to survive. In many cases, they are taken in by drug lords and other criminals and used as drug runners and prostitutes. With little to no proper nutrition, they are feeding themselves with the refuse found in garbage bins and dumps. Without an education or a family to support them, they will most likely remain unable to become employed.

A lack of education is a terrible dilemma for the 26 percent of the population who live below the poverty line. According to the Brazil Without Misery Program, 4.8 million people are living on no income whatsoever. The program teamed up with Bolsa Familia to give humanitarian aid to Brazil and its people. They provide education and basic nutritional needs to low-income families around the country. The families receive cash benefits, and in return, they must work to keep their children in school and follow the basic health and vaccination program.

The United States is set to donate $815,000 to Brazil this year. The aid is deepening the bond between the two countries and is providing humanitarian aid to Brazil in ways that are desperately needed. The money is planned to be used to deploy new technologies in healthcare and to decrease the AIDS problem spreading among young mothers. This will hopefully lower the numbers of orphaned children, and in the process, will increase the chances of them receiving an education.

With projects around the country working to promote education and healthcare among the youth, the government has started making these needs their focus. It is providing internal humanitarian aid to Brazil itself. Women are receiving better hygiene education, children are receiving healthcare and the government is working to house homeless teens and provide them with schooling.

Politicians are fighting to make civilian welfare a priority. They are working to have the government approach the poor rather than the other way around. Promoting civilian education and welfare has greatly benefited the economy as well as other countries in the process. For instance, the World Food Programme opened an office in Brazil, overseeing school feeding and food security for families and students. The program provides meal assistance for 50 countries, including 47 million children.

Brazil has since seen positive growth in linking public policy with school meals and security. School attendance has increased steadily by 200,000 annually for the past 10 years. Education is becoming a priority for families as well as the country itself.

Brazil has elevated in ranks in recent years, becoming the ninth largest economy in the world. This shift has led to it becoming a donor country for the first time in 2008, giving 53 percent of its donations to Africa and the rest to surrounding countries in Latin America.

While the country continues to receive assistance and is working tirelessly to promote education with a wider reach, Brazil is spreading its wings and dipping into the donor pool. The world has yet to see the difference this growing country can make.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

 BrazilBy hosting both the Football World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games in recent years, Brazil put the focus of the world’s attention firmly upon itself. In the resulting spotlight, many Brazilian citizens took the unique opportunity to voice concerns to the Brazilian government, with the wider world audience looking on. Protests and reform movements abounded in the past decade as a rapidly widening middle class made unprecedented demands in Brazil’s increasingly mobile and globally integrated society.

Among these movements, students and teachers in Brazil banded together to protest deficiencies in an education system that has long underserved Brazil’s citizens. In 2016, protestors occupied hundreds of schools nationwide to bring attention to the country’s needs.

In response to the protests and upheavals of the past few years, governments at every level in Brazil are beginning initiatives to address educational shortfalls. In many areas, education reforms in Brazil look familiar to readers from the United States. Ideas like performance pay for teachers and turning school management over to private charter organizations are spreading throughout the country at a rapid rate.

Application of the new American-inspired techniques is inconsistent however, and most education reforms in Brazil are still too new to evaluate effectively. In particular, schools in the large urban centers are innovating at a faster rate than systems in less developed areas of the country. Regardless, enthusiasm is high. Many of the movements are being fueled by the personal initiative of teachers, who are in some ways pulling their more conservative institutions forward with them.

Technology in Brazilian schools shows a similarly inconsistent yet hopeful picture. Schools in Rio de Janeiro, for example, are leaders in educational technology use in South America. In Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, one nonprofit foundation leads an initiative to translate and implement the Khan Academy materials for use in Brazilian schools. This popular online curriculum and method now features in hundreds of Brazilian schools reaching over 70,000 students.

In addition to the visible presence of the popular video-based curriculum, officials at the Lemann Foundation are even more excited about the potential for the support material and quality measurement features of the Khan Academy method. They see these “back end” features as creating real lasting value for future advances in Brazil’s schools.

Still, regions outside of the country’s largest cities have not progressed as quickly. Internet speeds to schools in Brazil are one unexpected challenge. While Brazil is a world leader in mobile internet infrastructure, most connections to schools do not reach the 2Mbps threshold considered ideal for delivery of online materials. Fortunately, one potential solution to this challenge is on the way. KALite, a compressed, offline version of the Khan Academy materials, is now being implemented in areas with less robust infrastructure.

Some of these tech-heavy initiatives are showing early signs of success. Brazilian students using these self-paced, interactive tools are more likely to show up to class, and anecdotal reports indicate a higher level of morale and enthusiasm as well.

Brazil instituted compulsory primary education in the 1980s, after the end of military rule. In many ways, that change was impressively successful. Literacy rates for example are far higher today than in the latter half of the 20th century, and enrollment has strongly improved. Still, educational attainment lags behind nations at a similar stage of development. Brazil’s education system is ranked 105th in quality out of 122 nations by the World Economic Forum.

As time passes, results from more structural changes will be seen as well, and time will tell whether the legacy of these education reforms in Brazil will garner the same attention as the sporting events that precipitated their beginning.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in BrazilThe United States Department of Agriculture defines sustainable agriculture as the production of plant and animal products using practices that will appease human needs for food, increase the quality of the environment and enhance the conditions of life for farmers and ultimately society.

Agriculture is a crucial industry in Brazil, as the country has immense agricultural resources available to it. It is one of the world’s largest countries and contains a vast area of land, an ample supply of freshwater and an abundant variety of various species of plants and wildlife. The country’s wide range of atmospheric conditions, paired with its advancements in technological developments, has allowed for sustainable agriculture in Brazil.

This, however, has not stopped the rise of obesity that this developing country has faced. Approximately 20.8 percent of the country’s population over age 15 has been categorized as obese. About 25 percent of women and around 18 percent of men aged 15 and over are considered overweight in Brazil.  

The obesity increase has created a huge issue for Brazil’s public health system. Diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease have skyrocketed. Doctors and weight specialists have identified this weight gain as occurring mostly among the poorest segments of the population, caused by the low cost of junk food and processed food.

In May 2017, Brazil became the first country to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) commitments towards curbing obesity, as part of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016–2025.

The three commitments they promised to achieve by the year 2019 are to halt the rise of the rate of obesity in adults, lower the consumption of sugary beverages among adults by at least 30 percent and increase the number of adults who regularly eat fruits and vegetables by 17.8 percent.

Brazil has outlined the specific measures it will take to achieving these goals. These include, but are not limited to, reducing the price of fresh foods, providing loans to farmer families at a lower interest rate and providing direct transfers payments to poverty-stricken families so they can purchase fresh produce. The government has also made promises to create more sustainable agriculture in Brazil by vowing to increase public procurement of goods from family farmers.

The Brazilian people can play a critical role in creating sustainable agriculture in Brazil. Through their purchases, they are able to send messages to these producers and businesses about what they think is important for consumption. By promoting healthy, affordable diets made possible by Brazilian agriculture, the country can address multiple issues in a single effort. 

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

Technology Boosts Credit Access in Brazil for Small BusinessBrazil’s commercial sector is overwhelmingly populated by small businesses. According to a report by SEBRAE, a small business agency of the Brazilian federal government, microenterprises and small businesses, defined as those with less than $1 million in annual revenues, make up 99 percent of the country’s 7 million commercial ventures.

Small businesses have driven tremendous growth in the Brazilian economy in the 21st century, raising millions of Brazilians out of poverty, but these businesses still face numerous difficulties in their daily operations. For example, credit access in Brazil has historically been expensive and difficult to obtain. This poses a challenge for small businesses and sole proprietors wishing to borrow modest amounts to cover inventory or to invest in new ventures.

Among the 20 largest world economies, Brazil has had the highest interest rates for commercial lending in recent decades, and banking fees are similarly high. Brazil’s financial system is highly concentrated, with a few large banks handling the vast majority of assets and transactions.

In recent years, however, new players have entered the market for consumer and small business finance in Brazil. Financial technology (FinTech) firms are making inroads into the largely untapped market for credit access in Brazil and giving many small businesses in the large South American nation new opportunities for growth. A 2017 report by Goldman Sachs noted that the unusually high interest rates and bank fees in Brazil increase the incentives for upstart financial companies to compete with large established banks. Because of the unusual concentration of banking in just a few small firms, FinTech stands to have a much larger impact by increasing credit access in Brazil than it does in other nations where the financial system is already more diverse.

By September 2017, Brazil had the largest number of operating FinTech startup companies in Latin America, topping even strong growth in Mexico, the region’s next most populous country. NuBank, Brazil’s most visible new financial technology company, has received more than 10 million applications in the past three years for new credit accounts. NuBank offers small business loans as well as personal credit in Brazil and the firm has recently seen growth as fast as 10 percent per month.

Some of the circumstances fueling these changes have been readily apparent on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and other large Brazilian cities for years. In the busiest urban blocks there, dozens of young people chat with each other using Internet-connected smartphones, and strangers exchanging information for the first time often offer a WhatsApp account or Facebook handle instead of a traditional phone number. FinTech firms are taking advantage of this phenomenon by developing a strong mobile presence and enthusiastically engaging with mobile and internet commerce.

Small enterprise is everywhere in Brazil’s large cities as well. Sidewalk kiosks and small local businesses make up the vast majority of retail establishments on every block of Rio’s densely packed downtown and its historical and beachfront neighborhoods. The scene is similar in Salvador and São Paulo, Brazil’s largest and third-largest cities, respectively.

Small business is an essential element to developing the economic potential of Brazil, the world’s sixth most populous country. Expanding employment and commercial opportunities can raise the standard of living for millions of low-income citizens who have not yet been fully helped by Brazil’s robust economic growth in the past few decades. With millions of Brazilians employed by these ubiquitous small businesses and the access to personal capital expanding at a rapid rate, the FinTech revolution in Latin America’s largest economy promises to be a winning story for economic development and poverty reduction for years to come.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in Brazil
Development projects in Brazil are creating change and improving the large South American nation. Although numerous efforts are being made to improve quality of life, here are the 5 most prevalent development projects in Brazil occurring today.

1. On October 20, 2017, Paraiba Sustainable Rural Development was approved.

Over the next five years (the project closes on the 15th of December, 2023), this project aims to improve access to water, reduce agro-climatic vulnerability, and increase access to markets for the inhabitants of rural Paraiba. Paraiba is a state of Brazil, located on the coast in the Brazilian northeast. It is most populated along the coast, and becomes more rural as one goes inland.

The most important aspects of this project will be its construction and rehabilitation of piped and non-piped water systems, and its construction of desalinization facilities and rainwater harvesting systems for individual households. These projects will directly impact and improve access to clean water for rural inhabitants of Paraiba. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that the project will cost $80 million.

2. Another development project in Brazil is the Fortaleza Sustainable Urban Development Project.

Approved on April 28, 2017, the Fortaleza Sustainable Urban Development Project aims to strengthen land use planning in the Municipality of Fortaleza and to “enhance urban environment and rehabilitate public spaces.”

Included in the project’s goals of rehabilitating public spaces are restoring Rachel de Queiroz Park, and reducing point-source pollution along the Vertente Maritima — the seaside of Fortaleza, the capital of Caera in northeastern Brazil. By improving the environment through reducing pollution and rehabilitating green spaces, the city will be a healthier space for its inhabitants, eventually leading to a higher quality of life.

3. A third of the development projects in Brazil is the Bolsa Familia social assistance program.

Bolsa-Familia is an older project — it began in 2003 — that serves as an example of a project that successfully fights against poverty. The program functions by giving poor families small cash transfers in exchange for keeping their children in school and attending preventive healthcare visits. About 50 million people benefit from Bolsa-Familia (1 in 4 Brazilians) and the project was responsible for reducing poverty in Brazil by 28 percent from 2002 to 2012.

Additionally, the poor in Brazil have gained greater autonomy through Bolsa-Familia, particularly women who make up about 90 percent of the beneficiaries. By helping families out of poverty, Bolsa-Familia gives the families’ children a greater chance of bettering themselves and their job prospects, and not requiring a program like Bolsa-Familia when they have their own families.

4. Government-invested research through institutions such as the Embrapa Institute has helped support agricultural development in Brazil. 

Small family farms have benefitted from this research in addition to large agribusinesses. The growth in productivity and wealth for small family farms is extremely important for agricultural development in Brazil, as family farms account for 84 percent of Brazilian farms and 24 percent of Brazilian farmland.

5. Another of the development projects in Brazil focuses on societal growth and inclusion– the Piaui Pillars of Growth and Social Inclusion Project for Brazil.

Two of the main focuses of the Piaui Pillars of Growth and Social Inclusion Project for Brazil are to reduce the dropout rate of students in public secondary school and to increase healthcare access for people with chronic diseases; the Piaui Project began in 2015 and will close in 2020.

By focusing on these areas, the project hones in on human development in Brazil, which aids in increasing the quality of life and chances of success for Brazilians. Ensuring healthcare and education for all provides greater equality of chance and helps those struggling to not have to spend as much time and money taking care of issues outside of their control — issues like chronic diseases.

Projects like these five not only improve development in Brazil by the ways outlined in their plans, but also through the research, planning, and implementation that goes into enacting them. All of these stages require people, such as researches and project managers; thus, more jobs are created, also helping to improve development.

A country cannot go wrong by implementing projects for the development of its people, particularly those of the lowest economic brackets. By this measure, Brazil is certainly doing right.

– Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Facts about Poverty in Brazil
Brazil’s learning initiatives focus on ending poverty at both the national and international levels. However, the Brazilian economic boom of the last decade seems to have concluded with millions returning to poverty. The following 10 facts about poverty in Brazil provide insight on the country’s current poverty threshold, political state, budget cuts and programs created to combat poverty.


Facts about Poverty in Brazil


  1. Brazil’s poverty line is set at 140 Brazilian reais per month, which roughly converts to $44 at the current exchange rate. Brazilians making less than $528 per year are considered to be in poverty.
  2. According to the World Bank, 28.6 million Brazilians emerged from poverty between 2004 and 2014. The World Bank further estimates that, from the start of 2016 to the end of this year, 2.5 million to 3.6 million Brazilians have fallen below the poverty line.
  3. Several cuts in social services, such as Bolsa Familia, have occurred under President Michel Temer. Bolsa Familia is Brazil’s family allowance program that provides monthly subsidies to qualifying low-income people. Non-labor income, such as Bolsa Familia, is responsible for the nearly 60 percent reduction of people living in poverty. Although increased unemployment pushes more citizens toward the program, fewer people are actually qualifying for coverage. Bolsa Familia’s decline in coverage may correlate with the recent crackdown on fraud, as Temer’s administration found discrepancies regarding 1.1 million recipients.
  4. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been under investigation regarding corruption allegations. Da Silva is appealing a conviction regarding a 10 year sentence for corruption, but he continues to lead preference polls for next year’s presidential election. His campaign promises to refocus on the poor and return to better economic times.
  5. After hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has suffered extreme economic unrest. The city struggles to pay thousands of public workers, with many receiving wages in late installments. Further items that have been reduced from the budget include garbage collection and a community policing program.
  6. Brazil’s learning initiative World Without Poverty (WWP), or Mundo Sem Pobreza, educates the world on social protection policies and initiatives to fight poverty. Brazil’s innovative solutions have been documented for international access since 2014 and WWP continues to compile the best practices used by other countries to improve global social protection systems.
  7. The Food Purchase Program, PAA, encourages family farming and increases food availability. The program increases regional and local marketing networks, promotes purchasing of foodstuffs by government, endorses biodiversity and organic food production, supports cooperatives and associations and encourages healthy eating habits.
  8. Cisterns Program, or Programa Cisternas, is a national program to support rainwater harvesting and other social technologies for accessing water. It is a part of the Water For All program where concrete cisterns are built for water storage. Stored water is consumed by households, business facilities and rural schools in the semi-arid region.
  9. Brazil’s semi-arid region frequently suffers droughts. The Cisterns Program’s initial goal was to install one million cisterns for domestic use, which was achieved in 2014, and has since been surpassed. Although the region has experienced a harsh drought since 2012, negative effects, such as child mortality, mass migration and starvation, are no longer widespread.
  10. 43 percent of children under five (almost 250 million) in low and middle-income countries face severe developmental issues due to hunger, malnutrition and violence. The Lancet launched “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” in Brazil. This study focuses on child development from birth to three years of age, emphasizing the importance of proper care during this critical period. Insufficient care can result in poor academic performance, chronic diseases and other developmental issues.

According to Fox News, the average American spends approximately $1,100 per year, more than double Brazil’s poverty threshold, on coffee. A simple conclusion can be reached from these 10 facts about poverty in Brazil: if every American cut their coffee budget in half, they could help eradicate poverty in Brazil.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr