projects in portugalPortugal already suffers from significant poverty and the recent COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these struggles. Prior to the pandemic, a fifth of the population, or approximately two million people, were considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The pandemic pushed around 400,000 people below the poverty line. Additionally, it increased the at-risk-of-poverty rate by 25%. However, Portugal’s two new poverty projects, formed within the last two years, work to significantly mitigate Portugal’s poverty problems. The projects address two main problems within Portugal: homelessness and child poverty. In addition, these two projects plan to ambitiously confront these features of poverty beyond the pandemic to offer sustainable poverty reduction in Portugal.

CRESCER’s É Uma Mesa Project

CRESCER is an organization that funds several initiatives in Portugal. It aims to promote the health and social integration of the most vulnerable on the streets of Lisbon. In recent months, CRESCER created the É Uma Mesa project. One of a few innovative projects in Portugal, É Uma Mesa centers around the restaurant and catering business. It prompts the social inclusion of specific vulnerable groups into the labor market. The project focuses mostly on homeless people but also supports refugees in extreme poverty. There are two main features of the project: conducting extensive training and offering restaurant employment.

The first feature consists of extensive training for homeless and extremely impoverished refugee groups. The É Uma Mesa effort trains these individuals in social and relational skills. They receive this on top of the service and catering skills acquired from on-the-job restaurant training. Furthermore, É Uma Mesa also offers “psychosocial support” to improve mental health for the homeless. Multifaceted training helps enable better integration of the homeless into the labor market and leads to greater inclusion within Portuguese society.

The Project’s Impact

É Uma Mesa notably supported the homeless community in recent months. FEANTSA, a major European group working on homelessness, recognized its achievements by awarding the project the 2021 Silver Prize of the Ending Homelessness Awards. Moreover, the project does not focus solely on homelessness during the pandemic and it is planning for the future with some notable long-term objectives.

These long-term objectives aim to significantly minimize Portuguese poverty and homelessness. One aim is to integrate 75 beneficiaries into training and 40 beneficiaries into the labor market each year. Efforts seek to improve the lives of the beneficiaries beyond the short term. To achieve this, ameliorating social and health conditions to ensure consistent stability remains a priority. And, CRESCER hopes to ensure the project is self-sustainable after three years.

La Caixa Foundation

La Caixa Foundation is the second of two new poverty projects in Portugal. Its main goal consists of providing several major initiatives that improve Portuguese child poverty and education. Its “social observatory” division is instrumental in conducting studies. Supported by the Center of Economics for Prosperity (PROSPER), the effort works to provide more accurate figures on poverty in Portugal.  The on-the-ground situation in Portugal plunged significant proportions of the population into poverty or propelled many to become at risk of poverty.

The other key division of this foundation is the “social programs” division. Specifically, this division made its most significant impact on minimizing child poverty and furthering education prospects for impoverished families. The collaboration of more than 400 local social organizations promotes the social and educational development of young children and adolescents. Simultaneously, this is in conjunction with mobilization efforts targeted at eradicating child poverty. As a result, La Caixa Foundation’s “CaixaProinfancia” has proven to be significant in its impact. In 2020, the project’s work enabled 58,841 impoverished children to attend school and supported 35,326 families.

Ultimately, these dual efforts reduce the impact of Portuguese poverty through multiple efforts. As the pandemic continues, many of those suffering the most gain critical support at critical times. As La Caixa and CRESCER continue to meet their goals, many of Portugal’s most needy stand to benefit.

Gabriel Sylvan
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in PortugalCOVID-19 has heavily impacted the way people live, even more so for those living in poverty. According to a report published by Agencia EFE Portugal, 21.6% of Portugal’s citizens were already at risk of poverty before the outbreak of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 have pushed thousands of people to poverty.

The Effect of a Pandemic on Poverty

The social, economic and health consequences the pandemic provoked worldwide are undeniable. While eradicating poverty has always been at the core focus of many nonprofit organizations, since the beginning of COVID-19, many nonprofit organizations have prioritized sanitation and clear water programs to eradicate COVID-19 and diminish poverty levels.

Poverty in Portugal is partly due to the enormous social and economic inequalities governing the country. Furthermore, COVID-19 has only exacerbated existing poverty rates. As reported by the World Bank, poverty in Portugal had been decreasing since 2017. During 2018, approximately 17% of the population lived in poverty. However, the situation has dramatically changed. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to 400,000 additional impoverished citizens in Portugal and “a 9% increase in inequality,” according to a study by PROSPER published in June 2021. Unquestionably, COVID-19 is directly linked to a social and economic crisis that is bringing instability to many countries. As this health crisis evolves, economic hardship increases too.

How Portugal is Managing the COVID-19 Pandemic

The United Nations has published a country report analyzing how the Portuguese government is dealing with the economic situation amid COVID-19. As reported, poverty in Portugal is becoming a core issue for the country. As such, the government has designed several programs covering education, health and social security to combat inequalities. For example, there is a compelling need to adjust pensions as many pensions equal €180 a month. If pensions increase, pensioners will be able to access and afford higher quality products and services and poverty will be alleviated.

Poverty in Portugal is also being addressed by several NGOs. The Portuguese Non-Governmental Development Organizations Platform (NGDOs) is a nonprofit society composed of 62 NGDOs. Cuerama and Caritas are two of the major organizations helping the most vulnerable communities in the country.

Caritas has steadily diminished poverty rates in Portugal. As Caritas published in 2018, the level of citizens demanding social services decreased by 12.7%, which is a historical record. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, disparities have increased again. The Social Observation Centre has been concisely preparing a platform to gather and track as much data as possible to improve the performance of Caritas.

Additionally, in Portugal, the coalition Global Action Against Poverty concisely combats poverty and inequalities. Since 1990, poverty in Portugal has been diminishing. However, as stated above, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the situation has worsened and Portugal is still one of the most unequal countries in Europe. As published by The Portugal News, Portugal “comes ninth in the ranking of most unequal countries out of the 34 the OECD measured.” Tax benefits are one of the most efficient policies introduced by the authorities trying to alleviate inequalities and poverty.

Tackling Poverty in Portugal Amid COVID-19

Poverty in Portugal has always been present. Yet, the outbreak of COVID-19 has tremendously aggravated the situation. As displayed above, figures have been dramatically increasing as social and economic inequalities have risen from the crisis. However, poverty in Portugal has become one of the main focuses for authorities and organizations. Policies like increasing pensions and tax benefits are already in place to combat poverty. Besides creating policies, there is a need to strengthen communication and education to ensure all these programs are successfully implemented.

With the efforts made by the government and NGOs alike, Portugal will hopefully be able to tackle poverty and COVID-19 simultaneously.

– Cristina Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture Cooperatives in Impoverished Rural Communities, Portuguese Winemakers Unite
For the estimated three-quarters of the global poor residing in rural environments, agriculture is the primary source of income. Any aspirations of poverty eradication are existentially dependent on the development of these communities. Cooperatives are associations of people who come together to achieve common economic, social and cultural goals. The long-standing tradition of agriculture cooperatives in impoverished communities, where small farms pool resources, is a potential component of an efficient policy to offset the ravages of endemic poverty in agrarian economies.

A Moment in the Sun

Designated by three branches of the United Nations, 2012 was the International Year of Cooperatives. One of its primary ambitions was highlighting the financial disadvantages of small farms and the potential for inter-community economic unions to fight poverty. Agricultural cooperatives, having an impact that “cannot be overstated,” figured heavily into U.N. recommendations and initiatives. Creating 20% more employment opportunities than multinational ventures, agriculture cooperatives in impoverished communities provide a long-term potential for sustainable job creation, which is paramount to poverty eradication.

Harvesting Prosperitya 2020 World Bank report, concluded that funding agricultural productivity is twice as effective at reducing extreme poverty than alternative methods. Crucially, the exhaustive report details the belief that industrial farms are the gold standard of high-yield agriculture. Contrarily, current research of “the inverse relationship hypothesis” questions the correlation of scale and productivity. Because impoverished rural communities are overwhelmingly populated with small-scale subsistence farms, one cannot overstate the essentiality of agriculture cooperatives in impoverished communities.

Being unique entities based on democratic principles, each cooperative has distinct requirements that defy a universal approach. The economic complexities of members serving as both suppliers and owners create multifaceted organizations with financial and social obligations, as opposed to a corporate performance that is based solely on finance and profitability. The dualistic nature of cooperatives as inherently business and community actors gives these organizations a great deal of leverage to impact the well-being of their communities.

Portuguese Traditions in the Age of Globalism

Over the long history of wine-making cooperatives in Portugal, these unions have consistently allowed members to garner higher prices and greater market share while simultaneously improving value chains and decreasing transaction expenses. Additionally, Portugal has garnered attention as cooperative bylaws are enshrined in the constitution, making them integral to the national economy.

With 39,506 vineyards in the Douro wine-growing region alone, the long-term economic future of an essential component of Portuguese national character requires the implementation of structural reform. Cooperatives represent 46% of regional production in Douro and Port. With most farms under one hectare, individual producers must combine resources to vinify grapes. But after several failed governmental attempts at modernization in response to globalism, agricultural cooperatives have been stymied by encroaching foreign markets.

Upon Portugal’s entry into the E.U. in 1986, a direct-to-consumer model that sustained wine cooperatives became untenable as cheap imports via larger wine-producing nations like France and Italy brought competition. Furthermore, environmental and geographic factors prevented Portuguese vineyards from countering increasing imports through higher production. Often inefficient bureaucracies, a slow transition, accompanied by foreign investment allowed Quintas — independent for-profit producers — to flourish. Many Portuguese wine agriculture cooperatives in impoverished communities did not survive the opening salvos of globalism.

Think Local, Act Global

The culling of slow-responding cooperatives has forced researchers and policymakers to develop a framework for adaptability. Several organizations, native and foreign, contribute to shaping and communicating the strategies for agriculture cooperatives in impoverished communities.

  • CASES: As previously noted, cooperatives must satisfy social obligations in addition to economic concerns. At Cooperativa Antonio Sergio para a Economia Social (CASES), an NGO focusing on the interrelatedness of finance and society, an alliance of Portuguese Creditors finances various cooperatives throughout the economy. A €12.5 million endeavor, Social Investe enabled several wine cooperatives to fund various projects and improvements.
  • PDR2020: The active involvement of governmental agencies is crucial to structural reform. Wine industry infrastructure is notoriously expensive and beyond the resources of independent producers. A federal initiative, Programa de Desenvolvimento Rural de Portugal (PDR 2020), funds agricultural purchases that are particularly crucial for Portuguese vineyards. These grants, amounting to €37.5 million in 2020 alone, also help farmers adapt to increasingly frequent climatic abnormalities that disrupt production.
  • Fenadegas: In order to affect the regulatory environment, wine cooperatives actively lobby for policy reform. Difficult at the individual level, Adegas Cooperativas de Portugal (ACP) is a coalition of 41 members and represents a unified agenda in addressing distinct exigencies of the industry. Additionally, the organization provides a global marketing platform, helping one cooperative survive the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing exports by 18% in 2020.
  • SALSA: The dual requirements of integrating with the local economy and tailoring production while simultaneously developing global strategies present major challenges. With the intergovernmental organization Small Farms, Small Food Businesses and Sustainable Food Security (SALSA), Alentejo regional farmers created the “Km0 Evora” label that certifies local provenance within 50km. Efficient value chains are a traditional strength of cooperatives, but pressures of globalism have disrupted local economies, making community initiatives and branding more relevant. Mimicking Km0’s success, several European agricultural cooperatives have introduced similar measures.
  • Adega de Borba: Maximization of member profit and temporary gain often leave cooperatives under-invested. Despite initial struggles, Adega Cooperativa de Borba (ACB), which began in 1955, successfully transitioned to the global marketplace and produces 15 million bottles annually. A €12 million-member investment to build a state-of-the-art production facility has allowed 300 small farmers to compete internationally by diversifying product offerings.

Restoring Profitability to Agriculture

As rural communities face increasing pressure from foreign influence, these already-disenfranchised populations will struggle to have others hear them amid the cacophony of global interests. Portuguese winemakers, that the rapidly-changing economy overwhelmed, suffered immense emigration as farming no longer provided sufficient income. Restoring profitability to agriculture is a powerful mechanism by which endemic poverty can disappear. Organizations at numerous levels will be instrumental in this effort, but progress must begin with collaboration in agrarian rural communities.

– Kit Krajeski
Photo: Flickr

Rights-Based Drug Policy
Rights-based drug policy has been increasing in popularity in recent years. In 2019, the U.N. Development Programme and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policies collaborated with legal and scientific experts on a three-year project to develop guidelines for a rights-based drug policy approach. The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy laid out recommendations that nations should follow regarding criminal justice, addiction treatment and pain relief accessibility in order to be in accordance with international humanitarian law. These recommendations include:

  • Ensuring access to all drug dependence treatment services and medications to anyone who needs them
  • Ensuring access to all harm reduction medication and services, such as those used to reduce the likelihood of overdose or HIV infection
  • Providing a reasonable standard of living to populations vulnerable to drug addiction
  • Repealing policies that strip drug offenders of their right to vote
  • Repealing laws that allow detainment solely on the basis of drug use

Worldwide, the most common approach to addressing drug use and trafficking relies on punishment. This is often in lieu of providing care to those affected by addiction and violence relating to the drug trade. According to the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, punishing drug users and withholding addiction treatment and harm reduction services are violations of human rights.

Some nations have been reforming their drug policy to address community needs and uphold humanitarian practices. Here are a few success stories.

Britain: Controlled Treatment for Opioid Dependence

In 2009, the British government undertook a four-year trial where doctors used injections of the opioid diamorphine, in addition to counseling, to stabilize addiction patients who had not responded to conventional treatments. After just six months of diamorphine injections, three-quarters of the trial participants stopped using street heroin. Crimes that the group committed dropped dramatically.

Today, many British citizens suffering from extreme opioid addiction are qualified to receive diamorphine through the National Health Service. From 2017-2018, 280 patients received this treatment to recover from addiction. However, conservative attitudes about the treatment threaten to cut services. Experts warn that patients who are no longer able to receive diamorphine may return to street heroin.

Scotland: Saving Lives with Naloxone

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Scotland began providing communities with take-home Naloxone kits in 2011 and issued 37,609 kits between 2011 and 2017.

The Scottish Ambulance Service recently rolled out a program to send Naloxone kits home with the friends and family of users after an overdose and train them how to administer the medication before an ambulance arrives to reduce the risk of death. Some Scotland police officers are beginning to carry Naloxone, though many are resistant to the practice.

Portugal: Humane Treatment for Users

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drug use. Instead of jail time, drug users receive fines or have to complete service hours and/or addiction treatment. Drug trafficking remains a criminal offense.

To replace incarceration, Portugal increased treatment programs. As of 2008, three-quarters of those suffering from opioid addictions were on medication-assisted treatment. Since the policy shift, opioid deaths have fallen dramatically, as well as HIV and Hepatitis C infections. In addition, U.S. research studies indicate that spending money on treatment returns more than investing in traditional crime reduction methods. Portugal also implemented a needle exchange program to provide intravenous drug users with clean needles, which experts say returns at least six times its expenses in reducing costs associated with HIV.

Decriminalization did not lead to a rise in addiction and Portugal’s prison population is lower now than before decriminalization. Rights-based drug policy has flipped the script on addiction in Portugal. Criminalization exacerbates issues related to addiction, such as poverty. Rights-based drug policies are better at breaking the cycle of addiction and thus, alleviating poverty.

Rights-based drug policy means treating users with respect and providing communities with the resources they need to address the devastation drugs can cause. Adopting legislation in line with The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy is a crucial step towards a scientific and rights-based approach to combating the worldwide drug crisis.

– Elise Brehob
Photo: Flickr

Coldfront: Energy Poverty in Portugal
One of the latest trends in the development of anti-poverty measures in the EU is the focus on “energy poverty” or “fuel poverty.” It encompasses two dimensions. The first is the incidence with which a household provides adequate environmental conditions (heating and cooling) for its residents. The second relates to the ability of individual members to get fuel for their vehicles. Perhaps surprisingly, Portugal is one of the worst-affected states in the European Union despite its relatively mild climate in comparison to EU states further north. This article will examine details from the type of housing prone to energy poverty to the adverse health conditions. It will then offer potential means to address the sources of energy poverty in Portugal.

On the Ground

Unsurprisingly, energy poverty in Portugal does not comprise a neat package. Factors ranging from local climate, homeownership and the home’s architecture influence energy poverty. The methods a household employs to sustain its environment also impacts whether it experiences energy poverty. Additionally, researchers show that these factors can influence whether a home is energy-poor:

  • Location: Typically homes located in the north and/or the countryside were more likely to be energy-poor (though one could find many in the south as well).
  • Age: Homes designed before the 1970s were more likely to be energy-poor. This is due to a lack of thermal insulation and less advanced forms of internal temperature controls.

Similarly, there is also a general profile that tends to fit the people that live in this type of housing, such as:

  • Gender: Respondents to the study in question were overwhelmingly female.
  • Age: Half of all respondents were over the age of 50.
  • Education: Half of all respondents received only primary education or lower.

Yet, all of this merely helps to describe the problem, not substantiate it. What are the practical consequences of energy poverty for the people who have to struggle with it? And what are its implications for broader society?

It All Starts at Home 

Studies that researchers have conducted worldwide demonstrate that members of energy-poor homes tend to suffer higher rates of diseases and higher rates of mortality. A study from 2014 found that Portugal had nearly twice the EU average of excess deaths in winter. Disputes have emerged as to how much excess morbidity one can ascribe to just cold housing. However, one cannot deny that the high prevalence of insufficiently-heated homes exacerbates other causes of excess death in the winter.

Moreover, homes that struggle with energy poverty tend to shelter people who are more vulnerable to these illnesses in the first place. For example, the elderly have more vulnerability due to having weaker immune systems in comparison to the young and the poor possessing fewer resources to advocate for themselves. Under international law, adequate housing is a human right that the state has an obligation to secure for its citizens. Therefore, this is a social problem that requires a societal response.

How to Respond?

Among social scientists who study energy poverty, a disagreement exists on whether the solution to this problem lies with addressing household income or through renovating and/or replacing existing structures. In contrast, the main reason people shelter themselves in energy-poor houses is that they are affordable. Providing people with additional income to go towards rehousing could be an easy solution to this problem. Another solution could be augmenting people’s current living space.

In fact, the Portuguese government passed social tariffs on electricity and natural gas in 2010 and 2011. Respectively, the income passed on to populations the government deemed to be vulnerable to energy poverty in Portugal. While the extra income was marginally beneficial for the recipient populations, many consider it an inefficient answer to the problem of energy poverty.

On the other hand, the issue of housing itself also exists. Many of the homes these studies discuss are old public housing units that have not undergone renovations to meet the present standards. Retrofitting these structures with modern designs that incorporate better insulation and repairing existing heating and piping systems are labor-intensive and expensive. Yet the results of a successful renovation could lift more people from energy poverty than simply hoping that the markets will provide an adequate answer.

One can see the practical effects of this in nearby Barcelona, where a 2016 study found that there was a significant decline in cold-related mortality rates for public housing unit residents when housing interventions (i.e renovations) occurred on the building they lived in. Renovations are not a cure and they do not address privately-owned energy-poor homes, but they could mean a world of difference for public housing residents’ quality of life.

The Upshot

Energy poverty is an emerging field of study that has yet to experience full contextualization between its environmental, economical and socio-psychological aspects. Nevertheless, it is the new frontline in the war on poverty in Europe. Even in sunny Portugal, cold indifference costs lives yearly. Better is possible, so long as Portugal puts in the effort.

Aidan King
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in portugal
Portugal is part of the Iberian Peninsula and lies along the coast of the Atlantic Sea. It is located in Southern Europe and bordered on its northern and eastern sides by Spain. Many know Portugal for its resorts and beaches, cuisine and soccer team, especially its star athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo. However, many also know this country for its amazing, world-renowned healthcare systems and facilities. The following are eight facts about healthcare in Portugal.

8 Facts About Healthcare In Portugal

  1. Universal Health Coverage: Portugal provides healthcare free of charge to children under age 18 and adults over 65. If citizens do not meet these requirements, and unless they need urgent care or have a unique situation, the NHS offers healthcare to them at a low cost. According to internations.org, the average cost of health insurance in Portugal, “could cost between 20 and 50 EUR ($22–55) a month, depending on your age and the extent of your coverage.” This means that a Portuguese citizen could pay, “anywhere between 400 EUR ($440) a year for a basic plan and 1,000 EUR ($1,100) yearly for a more well-rounded coverage.”
  2. Twelfth in the U.N.: In an analysis of the healthcare systems of U.N.-member countries, WHO ranked Portugal 12th best out of 190 countries. Further, Portugal received a 94.5 rating out of 100 on fairness in financing and the efficiency, quality and equity of health responsiveness.
  3. Free Childbirth: Giving birth in Portugal is free if one is a citizen of Portugal. Women receive medical care in all stages of their pregnancy. This includes free appointments with an OB-GYN and delivery, for both natural births and C-sections.
  4. Prevalent Health Conditions: Cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the two most concerning health issues in Portugal. According to the State of Health in the E.U., other causes of death for Portugal’s citizens include diseases in the nervous system (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc), respiratory diseases and external causes.
  5. High Life Expectancy: The life expectancy of Portugal’s citizens is 82.1 years. Men in the country live for 78 years on average while women can live for about 85 years. Portugal’s life expectancy is higher than the European average of 80.9 years, and expectations have determined that it could keep increasing. U.N. projections have determined that the life expectancy in Portugal could rise to 83.67 by 2030.
  6. NHS-run Hospitals: In 2016, there were about 225 hospitals in Portugal. Portugal’s National Health Service ran 111 of these hospitals, amounting to about 49.3% of the hospitals.
  7. Bad Habits: In 2014, about 17% of adults that resided in Portugal smoked every day, and adult obesity rates had risen to 16%. These habits, when coupled with excessive binge drinking, another popular activity in Portugal, lead to a high prevalence of health issues, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  8. Disability: As of 2000, many Portuguese women can expect to live three-quarters of their life with some type of disability. Meanwhile, men can expect to live three-fifths of their years with some disability, illness or ailment.

These eight facts about healthcare in Portugal demonstrate the benefits that Portuguese people face with their healthcare system as well as some of their challenges. Hopefully, the ability for Portugal’s citizens to obtain free healthcare during early life and old age can serve as an inspiration to other parts of the world.

Kate Estevez
Photo: Pixabay

6 Facts About Homelessness in Portugal
Portugal’s idyllic location near the Atlantic Ocean has made it a popular location for tourists around the globe. The Mediterranean nation’s legacy as a maritime empire, beaches in the Azores region and specialty seafood dishes such as grilled cod come to mind for many. While it enjoys its status as a developed country, it is not immune to social and economic problems. One of Portugal’s most pressing issues is homelessness. The nation has taken several initiatives to address the situation within its borders. Here are eight facts about homelessness in Portugal.

8 Facts About Homelessness in Portugal

  1. Homeless Portuguese people account for 0.04% of the population. As of early 2020, 4,414 out of 10 million population were on the streets.
  2. The majority of the homeless in Portugal are men. Recent surveys on homelessness in Portugal found that 82% of the homeless population were male.
  3. The homeless population in Portugal is rising. A recent study after the 2008 recession found that the number of homeless increased by 14% in a five-year span, from 1,445 to 1,679. This number has increased substantially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic placed unique pressures on the Portuguese capital regarding the homeless. With COVID-19 shutting down the economy, many of Lisbon’s residents lost their jobs. In addition, the pandemic affected those with odd jobs, followed by non-contract workers and eventually members of the lower-middle class. As a result, many found themselves on the streets as they were unable to provide for themselves. Before the pandemic, Lisbon had 360 homeless people according to municipal services. About 200 people stay in homeless shelters. However, these shelters are no longer large enough to accommodate the current numbers.
  5. Fortunately, the Basic Housing Law made housing an official right for all Portuguese. In 2019, a bill passed that placed the responsibility of ensuring adequate housing to citizens on the Portuguese government. This law highlights the importance of the social function of housing, with the goals of eliminating homelessness, using public real estate for price-friendly housing and forbidding tenant evictions especially in Lisbon, the capital.
  6. The Portuguese government is working with NGOs to eliminate housing problems. Since 2009, Housing First has gained significant attention from policymakers. AEIPS, an NGO, operates it in tandem with university researchers. It was first implemented in the parish of Santa Maria Maior but has since extended to the entire city of Lisbon. The project provided people with immediate access to independent apartments in various areas while offering support services unique to each individual’s issues. Over 2,051 of Portugal’s homeless benefit from the initiatives of Housing First.
  7. Portugal’s homeless receive healthcare from street teams. These street teams, which mostly consist of hired or medical volunteers, receive funding from public and private resources. Their priority is to reduce harm in substance abuse amongst the homeless. The teams typically offer risk-reduction programs and emergency first aid in cases of negligence.
  8. The Portuguese capital is spearheading efforts to combat homelessness swiftly. Teaming with the aforementioned Housing First, the Lisbon city council made a pledge for the 2019-2021 period. The city council announced its intention to invest €14.5 million in tackling homelessness. Additionally, the city council plans to build 400 homes available for use by 2023.

The economic implications of the 2008 recession paired with the effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic have aggravated what the Portuguese president defined as a national challenge. Luckily, both national and local governments are introducing initiatives to weather and reduce homelessness in the upcoming years. If Portugal continues to zero in on this issue and make good on its promise to provide housing for all, then perhaps this challenge will become a thing of the past for this developed nation. In addition, Portugal could inspire other countries struggling with homelessness to do the same.

Faven Woldetatyos
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Portugal

Living conditions in Portugal, as described by Marcel Rebelo de Sousa, the president of Portugal, are “disgraceful.” Rebelo defends the urgency to come up with a strategy to eradicate poverty in the country. He also states, “We must get this message through to the Portuguese society that no one is happy or could be happy pretending there is no poverty around them.”

With President Rebelo’s message in mind, here are the top 10 facts about the living conditions in Portugal that represent the significance of the need for change in the country.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Portugal

  1. In 2017 and 2018, Portugal had one of the widest wealth gaps. Wealthy citizens in the country are earning up to five times more money than those living in poverty. In fact, 18.7 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. In comparison to 2012, it has been increasing.
  2. Portugal was experiencing a recession illustrated by the economy growing 0 percent in 2008. The economy then fell 3 percent in 2009. Additionally, the government underwent a 3 percent budget deficit in 2008.
  3. According to Eurostat in 2019, people in Portugal work up to twelve hours per day. The average hourly rate for workers in Portugal has dropped to 12.10 euros. In comparison, the average pay per hour in European countries stands at €27.60.
  4. BBC News reports people in Portugal suffer pay cuts due to ongoing government reforms. Annual salaries have been cut down three quarters the usual wage. A majority of the population has seen their wages cut by 6 percent.
  5. Necessities such as water and electricity are increasing to an all-time high. When looking at annual income and the expenses necessary for survival, citizens of Portugal earn less than what is necessary to live comfortably.
  6. There are several factors for children misbehaving in schools For example, in addition to insufficient finances to buy food, water and clothing, there is a lack of parental guidance. In turn, these factors negatively impact the education of the youth in Portugal.
  7. Joao Carlos, the headteacher of a school in Rio Moro, notes that over the past year, violence has been increasing in schools. Similarily increasing, is the number of students arriving without having eaten breakfast. Carlos states, “If a child is going to perform well at school, they need to eat well at home and they need to stop growing up by themselves.”
  8. Child labor has become increasingly common in Portugal. Many kids under the age of 16 have to beg for jobs in order to help support the family. This is one result of children choosing not to attend school.
  9. According to Trading Economics, in January 2019, 6.8 percent of the country remains unemployed. This is a slight increase from the 6.7 percent that was unemployed in 2018.
  10. World HIV and Aids Epidemic Report states that Portugal has one of the highest incidence rates of HIV/AIDS in Europe. There are over 34,000 people infected with the virus. Of that number, 500 people died of the disease last year.

President Sousa has outlined a plan he hopes to implement in the coming years to reduce poverty in the country. Sousa’s main goal is to expand the job force while increasing wages. Additionally, he wants to provide a better education especially for women, more access to health care, and improving sanitation in the country.

In addition to Sousa’s efforts, non-profit organizations such as the ABIC- Associação dos Bolseiros de Investigação Científica and Habitat for Humanity are forming. ABIC’s main actions include forming funding agencies in Portugal while urging the government to open scientific job positions. On the contrary, Habitat for Humanity in Portugal helps low-income families by building new homes and renovating houses on family-owned land.

Although these 10 facts about the living conditions in Portugal appear devastating, the steps toward solutions have been initiated. More awareness around the issues suffocating the country is starting the process of reform for those in Portugal.

– Aaron Templin
Photo: Flickr

Sustainability in PortugalLocated on the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe, Portugal was one of the world’s most powerful seafaring nations throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. However, environmental destruction, loss of colonies, war and political instability catalyzed the decline of Portugal’s wealthy status.

In a bid to turn things around, the coastline country has been emphasizing sustainability since 2014. Through the reallocation of resources and renewable energy, Portugal seeks to enhance economic, social and territorial development policies. Here are 10 facts about sustainability in Portugal and its dedication to responsible and sustainable growth.

10 Facts About Sustainability in Portugal

  1. Portugal 2020 is a partnership agreement between Portugal and the European Commission dedicated to sustainable economic and social development. Between 2014 and 2020, the European Commission agreed to allocate 25 billion euros to Portugal. This funding will allow for the stimulation of growth and creation of employment.
  2. Smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is at the center of Portugal 2020. Within the next calendar year, Portugal aims to have a greenhouse gas emission equal to that of the early 2000s. The goal includes having 31 percent of energy come from renewable sources, along with increased exports from the promotion of sustainable development.
  3. Portugal 2020 is designed to have a large impact on social development. This impact includes a 75 percent employment rate, 200,000 fewer people living in poverty, decreased early school dropout levels and a dedication to combating social exclusion.
  4. One improvement stemming from Portugal’s emphasis on sustainability is water quality. Since the beginning of Portugal 2020, 100 percent of urban and rural drinking water and bathing water meets health standards. This is just one way in which civilians are benefiting from the emphasis of sustainability in Portugal.
  5. Another area of improvement is air quality. As of 2019, Portugal has satisfactory air quality with pollution posing little to no risk on human health. However, Portugal still plans to improve its air quality further.
  6. Portugal is on target to hit the goals outlined in Portugal 2020. With the aid of the European Commission, Portugal is set up to meet the economic, environmental and social goals outlined in the partnered agreement.
  7. Portugal’s goals for after Portugal 2020 include decarbonization. By 2050, the country aims to be carbon neutral, which means they will not release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Aside from utilizing environmentally-friendly methods of energy production, another goal is transportation reform. Portugal’s plan includes replacing more than 500 buses with electric powered vehicles and investing in two new underground networks. Increasing access to quality public transportation will hopefully have a drastic impact on the use of carbon emission via cars.
  8. Solar power is another focus of Portugal 2020. The Portuguese Minister of Environment believes the country can harvest more than 10 percent of energy production within the next five years. Currently, Portugal harvests more wind than solar energy. However, this other prospect for sustainable energy sets new goals for the future and more opportunity for job creation.
  9. Portugal has embarked on a green growth agenda. The country aims to be a national leader in sustainable and economic growth. Portugal’s Commitment for Green Growth targets a low-carbon economy, high efficiency in resources and more jobs centered around sustainability. This sets a high standard for countries wanting to build up their economies in a sustainable way.
  10. A 2030 agenda will outline new goals for a sustainable and inclusive Portugal. This new plan aims to focus on issues pertaining to peace, security, good governance, increased emphasis on fragile states, conservation and sustainable use of oceans. It also aims to focus on human rights, including gender equality. Although the seaside country will have many successes to celebrate in 2020, the Portuguese government is already preparing its next steps to keep driving forward sustainability.

Portugal 2020 and other national sustainability goals highlight the country’s commitment to investing in the future. Focusing on resourcefully building its economy, sustainability in Portugal also focuses on improving societal issues, such as poverty and education.

Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Portugal

Portugal is usually known as a hotspot for tourists; a country filled with breathtaking historical sites and exquisite cuisine. Even though it may look like a luxury spot for vacation from the outside, Portugal is actually a country filled with economic and financial problems. Behind the array of castles, cathedrals and towers lay people living on the streets because of unemployment and children that are suffering. Why is poverty in Portugal such a big problem?

Poverty in Portugal: Top 10 Facts

  1. There are almost 2.6 million people living below the poverty line in Portugal, according to the National Statistics Institute. 487,000 of the citizens living in poverty in the country are under the age of 18.
  2. Portugal is one of the most unequal countries in Europe. The wealthy citizens earn an income that is five times higher than other people who are living in poverty.
  3. Portugal is known as one of the European countries that work the most, although, the hourly wage for workers is extremely low compared to other countries in Europe.
  4. Parents have to work multiple jobs, leaving them with less time to spend with their children. Due of this, students have been known to act out more and come to school not having eaten a proper breakfast.
  5. Unemployment is one of the main causes of poverty in Portugal. In 2018, the unemployment rate dropped down to 7.9 percent.
  6. After the 2008 recession, Portugal did not progress economically compared to the other countries around the world. Economic growth has been slowing down since then.
  7. A lot of families are forced to live in shacks or shambled housing due to poverty in Portugal. The need for suitable housing in the country is increasing, especially in urban areas.
  8. Portugal has the highest rate of HIV/AIDs in all of Western Europe.
  9. Child labor is common in the northern and central parts of Portugal. Many children under the age of 16 are made to beg on the streets and even have to leave school in search of work.
  10. Elderly citizens and children are more likely to be living in poverty in Portugal than any other group of people. The elderly are the most dominant demographic in Portugal, especially in more rural areas.

What is the Future of Portugal?

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa mentioned that citizens should not be simply pretending that poverty doesn’t exist in their country. It is indeed disturbing that in Portugal almost 2.6 million people are at risk of poverty.

In March at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, President de Sousa discussed his national strategy for increasing the growth of employment, education, housing and health to hopefully eradicate poverty in Portugal. He said that he believes the country had been in a rut since the financial crisis and a global strategy must be implemented immediately to eradicate it.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr