Posts

Conditional cash transfer
Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs serve as poverty reduction tools. The government provides monetary support to individuals with low incomes on the condition that the individuals meet certain requirements. For example, an individual may receive a cash transfer on the condition that he or she keeps his or her child in school and ensures the child receives all necessary child immunizations. The aim of CCTs is to stop the transmission of poverty from generation to generation, which is why conditions, especially related to healthcare and education, are in place. CCTs have shown success as poverty reduction tools in many countries, especially in regions such as Latin America.

Benefits and Criticisms of Conditional Cash Transfers

A benefit of CCTs is that they allow people to use welfare to meet their specific needs. CCTs empower impoverished communities by giving them the choice, through the provision of cash, of how to use aid to best meet their individual needs. Other welfare programs are able to fulfill a specific need, but they also restrict the voice of impoverished communities to choose how to best fulfill their needs.

Another benefit is that giving individuals money is cheaper than providing people with goods. When paying for goods, the government must also pay for the secondary costs associated with the goods, such as storage and transportation. Therefore, direct cash payments are more cost-effective than programs that distribute goods.

A common concern with CCTs is that recipients will spend the money on alcohol and drugs instead of their basic needs. Researchers have conducted studies to learn more about how recipients spend CCT money and results show that most recipients spend the money on meeting their families’ needs.

4 Countries With Successful Conditional Cash Transfer Programs

  1. Brazil’s Bolsa Família. Established in 2003 by Brazil’s former president, Lula da Silva, the program provides 32 reais (about $19) every month for each child in a family with a household income of fewer than 140 reais ($82) in exchange for parents ensuring that their child attends school and regular doctor’s appointments. The government will provide money for up to five children per family. Bolsa Família is the world’s largest CCT program, benefitting 11.1 million families every year. The program has decreased income inequality and poverty in Brazil. Estimates indicate that rates of extreme poverty in Brazil “would be between 33% and 50% higher” if Bolsa Família was not in place. Overall, the program is responsible for decreasing income equality in Brazil by 12%-21%.
  2. Argentina’s Universal Child Allowance for Social Protection (AUH). Beginning in 2009, the program provides money to children from impoverished families. Every month, child beneficiaries receive $55. The government provides 80% of the money to the child monthly and places the remaining 20% into a savings account for the child. In exchange for the money, children must attend school and meet health objectives. The AUH reaches almost four million children, decreasing poverty and increasing childhood well-being in Argentina. In the early years of the program, child poverty decreased by 13.1 percentage points and “12.5% of households receiving the AUH in 2015 were no longer in poverty.”
  3. The Philippines’ Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Beginning in 2008, the program provides families with grants of P500 ($11) to P1,400 ($32) every month. The grant amount is dependent on the number of children in a household and the grant conditions have ties to education and child health care requirements. A couple of these conditions involve keeping children in school, attending regular pediatric check-ups and females attending check-ups in the case of pregnancy. From the start of the program to 2019, more than 5 million households benefited from Pantawid Pamilyang. The program has “increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points” while raising “elementary school enrollment” among impoverished children by 5% and increasing high school enrollment rates among impoverished children by 7%.
  4. Jamaica’s Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH). Since 2002, the Jamaican government has committed to providing cash grants to impoverished families in exchange for children obtaining an attendance rate of 85% or higher in school and on the condition that parents take children younger than 6 years old to doctor’s appointments following a schedule that the Ministry of Health created. PATH benefits 350,000 Jamaicans, improving school attendance and increasing health care visits for children.

The Role of CCTs in Reducing Global Poverty

Conditional cash transfers have gained prominence as a strategy to help impoverished families in real-time while also working to prevent future poverty through the transmission of intergenerational poverty. While CCTs positively impact families in multiple countries, improvements to education and health services must accompany the programs so that children can receive quality education and adequate health care services. Increased participation through CCTs in tandem with improved public services can have a more significant impact on the world’s impoverished than CCTs alone. The combined power of conditional cash transfer programs and public service improvements have the potential to create lasting change globally.

– Anna Ryu
Photo: Flickr

The Impact of COVID-19 on Impoverished Populations in BrazilAs the impact of the COVID-19 on impoverished populations in Brazil continues, volunteers are providing support to community food pantries. Impromptu pantries are granting food to as many Brazilians as possible. Following the suspension of government emergency payments through the program Bolsa Familia, poverty in Brazil has quickly risen. The New York Times recently reported that Rio de Janeiro children have been begging for food at grocery stores while families huddle together in encampments. However, the pantries have alleviated some of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic and suspended payments have brought on Brazil.

Bolsa Familia

In April 2020, President Jair Bolsonaro authorized emergency payments for millions of Brazilians. “It was a lifeline,” Jeronimo Rodriguez, a global economics student at Temple University, said in an interview with The Borgen Project. “It was very important for people, if they didn’t have this program, even more people would be [facing] problems.”

The government agreed to send 322 billion reais ($56 billion) to more than 60 million Brazilians registered with Bolsa Familia, the country’s pre-existing social welfare program. The government created Bolsa Familia in 2003 in an effort to reduce extreme poverty in Brazil. Monthly payment distribution was based on family composition and household income.

Emergency payment eligibility was originally based on Bolsa Familia eligibility, but the government expanded eligibility due to the pandemic. According to The Center for Public Engagement, this program helped more than 11 million families in Brazil.

However, in August 2020, budget cuts halved the monthly payments that helped reduce the impact of COVID-19 on impoverished populations in Brazil. Later, in December 2020, the government suspended payments. This put those previously living in poverty in Brazil at risk of crossing that line again. Aljazeera News reported that the second round of payments was to begin in April 2021.

The second round would have sent four monthly payments of 250 reais ($50) to families, but would not have covered as many people as the first round of payments. “There are millions of Brazilians, millions of people included in the first round of payments and now they have been kicked out,” said Rodriguez. 

Impact of COVID-19

President Jair Bolsonaro is still under scrutiny for his handling of the pandemic. Bolsonaro avoided lockdowns, kept businesses open and has been slow to secure vaccines. In addition, Brazil’s healthcare system proved to be unable to handle the pandemic. Brazil’s hospitals were lacking appropriate staffing, sufficient resources and privatized care. The lack of access to healthcare has strained those living in poverty in Brazil the most.

“They struggled a lot when we were in a ‘normal’ world, so the pandemic just made it clear that they’re living in horrible conditions up there,” Ygor Zanardo, an MBA student at West Chester University, said in an interview with The Borgen Project. Zanardo is from Brazil and is still in contact with friends and family there.

COVAX, an initiative to help equally distribute vaccines globally, donated its first round of vaccines to Brazil on March 2021. Expectations have determined that Brazil will receive more vaccine donations throughout the year. As of May 18, 2021, more than 17 million Brazilians have obtained vaccinations.

Political Crisis

According to Aljazeera News, the Brazilian Senate is currently investigating President Jair Bolsonaro for his handling of the pandemic. “The politicians there should focus on getting more vaccines and with a faster distribution of them while taking care of the individuals who are sick now with the right care that they deserve using public health,” said Zanardo.

Zanardo said the most effective way to offer assistance and alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on impoverished populations in Brazil would be to advocate for increased vaccines to the country. France and Sweden have recently donated vaccines to the COVAX Initiative. The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging other developing countries to participate.

– Monica Mellon
Photo: Flickr

brazil helps Venezuelan refugeesDue to the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela, many of the country’s citizens are fleeing for refuge in other countries in Latin America. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Venezuelan refugee crisis is among the worst in the world. Currently, more than 5 million Venezuelans are living in other locations because of issues in their home country. These issues include violence, poverty and a plethora of human rights concerns. Of the Venezuelans living abroad, around 2.5 million of them are living somewhere in the Americas. One country hosting these refugees is Brazil. Brazil helps Venezuelan refugees in several ways.

Brazil’s Relocation Efforts

Brazil has gone above and beyond for the Venezuelan refugees that have come to the country for refuge. Many of the Venezuelan refugees resided in the Brazilian northern state of Roraima. However, a relocation strategy that launched three years ago meant 50,000 refugees that were living in Roraima were relocated to other cities across Brazil. This effort is part of Operation Welcome and it has immensely improved the quality of life for Venezuelan refugees, according to a survey that the UNHCR conducted in which 360 relocated Venezuelan families participated.

Within only weeks of being relocated to a new city, 77% of these families were able to find a place of employment, which led to an increase in their income six to eight weeks after relocation. Quality of life improved for Venezuelans who partook in this survey. The majority of them were able to rent homes and just 5% had to rely on temporary accommodation four months following their relocation. This is a great improvement in comparison to the conditions refugees lived in before relocation. Before relocation, 60% of Venezuelan refugees had to rely on temporary shelter and 3% were entirely homeless. This relocation effort is a significant way in which Brazil helps Venezuelan refugees.

Brazil’s Social Assistance

Brazil helps Venezuelan refugees with its social assistance programs, specifically Brazil’s key conditional cash transfer program, Bolsa Familia. Social assistance programs are designed to help impoverished families, many of which are Venezuelan refugees. Currently, there are low but rising numbers of Venezuelans that are taking advantage of this program. According to the UNHCR, only 384 Venezuelans were using Bolsa Familia in January 2018. More than two years later, in February 2020, this number rose to 16,707. While the number could be higher, the past two years show an upward trend of Venezuelans using this important program to improve their living conditions in Brazil.

The Catholic Church in Brazil Assists

The Catholic Church in Brazil is providing its fair share of help to Venezuelan refugees. A center in the capital of Brazil is hosting Venezuelan migrants relocating from the refugee centers in the Amazon region. The center is receiving support from ASVI Brasil, which has a relationship with the Catholic Church, and Brazil’s Migration and Human Rights Institute. The effort was designed to support Operation Welcome, the Brazilian government’s initiative to address the Venezuelan migration crisis. The center will be able to house 15 Venezuelan families at a time and will rotate families every three months. The center will ensure working people from families have a safe place to live before moving on.

Brazil helps Venezuelan refugees by providing several forms of support. Many of these Venezuelan refugees have left their country because of unimaginable conditions of poverty and violence. The support from Brazil allows these refugees to avoid the hardships of poverty and secure shelter, basic needs and employment in order to make better lives for themselves.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Brazil
According to a study that the United Nations published on August 14, 2018, 60% of Brazilian children live in poverty. These include children up to 17 years old who are financially poor, meaning that they do not have access to one or more of the following: education, information, water, sanitation, housing and protection against child labor. Despite these challenges, some have made efforts and improvements to address the issue of child poverty in Brazil.

Child Poverty in Brazil

A UNICEF representative claimed that in order to understand the sincerity of child poverty in Brazil, one must have an understanding of whether or not the country is enforcing fundamental rights. Rural areas do not enforce 87.5% of children’s rights whereas 41.6% do not enforce rights for children in urban areas. As a result, children do not have a guarantee of adequate access to education, proper nutrition and housing. This leaves children with no choice but to participate in child labor.

About 13.3 million Brazilian children do not have access to sanitation, while 8.8 million lack education, 7.6 million cannot access clean water and 2.5 million lack protection from child labor. Meanwhile, 13,900 children have absolutely no access to the six qualifications (education, information, water, sanitation, housing and protection against child labor) due to the fact they are beyond the limit of public policy.

Violence

The extreme poverty of Brazil’s children also results in increased violence toward them. In 2016, 18.4% of murder victims were children and adolescents. In fact, roughly 11,000 adolescents are murdered annually, giving Brazil the highest number of adolescent victims of homicide in the world. Inadequate educational programs and social services for children put them at higher risk of violent situations.

Child Labor

In November 2017, a survey found that roughly 1,000,000 Brazilian children engaged in child labor. Forms of child labor that they participated in were commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking and agriculture. The Brazilian government has committed itself to the eradication of child labor. In fact, in 2019, it removed 1,040 victims from child labor.

A key way to combat child labor is to provide adequate education and increase attendance. Although Brazilian law requires that children gain an education, there are many issues with overpopulation, poor infrastructure and lack of resources and educators, and particularly in rural areas. Brazil is continuously making efforts to improve the education system for its citizens. For example, students previously needed to provide birth registration documents to attend school and even when families received assistance in obtaining these documents, the process often had delays. As a result, the Brazilian government approved a bill that made it so that birth certificates were no longer necessary to register for school. This of course received the Education Committee’s approval in 2018.

UNICEF Brazil

UNICEF Brazil, in partnership with Samsung, has made distinctive efforts to improve the quality of education in Brazil. In 2018, students started creating apps to facilitate learning. About 100 groups submitted ideas and 31 garnered acceptance. These groups received mentoring and help to develop their educational app. Winning teams received funding to fully develop their project.

UNICEF also implemented a safe and clean environment for children in 1,571 cities. As a result, the cities gained the UNICEF Municipal Seal of Approval. By the end of 2018, the lives of over 23,000 adolescents improved. In order to increase the safety of Brazil’s children, UNICEF trained 550 members of the Brazilian Ministry of Defense to combat sexual exploitation and abuse within the course of only six months.

Brazil’s Government Programs

In addition to UNICEF’s many contributions, Brazil’s government has instituted numerous programs aiming to improve child poverty. The National Program to Eradicate Child Labor specifically works to raise awareness and defend victims. As of 2019, the program serviced 8,982 children involved in child labor.

Additionally, a family stipend program called Bolsa Família distributes funds to families that live in both poverty and extreme poverty. To date, it has administered 14 million messages to outline the dangers of child labor. Meanwhile, Specialized Social Assistance Reference Centers has dedicated itself to providing mental health resources for victims of child labor and sexual exploitation. The organization has successfully opened 143 help centers. Another effort to fight child labor in Brazil has involved South-South Cooperation Projects, which facilitated the meeting of 24 Brazillian government representatives to discuss the best ways to eradicate child labor in connection with child poverty.

Brazil faces a massive difficulty in providing adequate protection and resources for its children in order to combat child poverty. With the dedication of the country’s government as well as nonprofits like UNICEF, massive progress has occurred and should continue in the years to come.

– Adelle Skousen
Photo: Flickr

Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and is home to more than 210 million people. As of 2020, almost 7 million people in Brazil are living in poverty, approximately 3% of the total population. While this is already a significant decrease from previous years, recent innovations have helped lower poverty rates even further. Here are the most notable innovations in poverty eradication in Brazil.

Going Low Carbon

It is no secret that greenhouse gases have a significant environmental impact. Brazil has taken responsibility by rethinking its economy and discussing some potential solutions, including going low carbon. This change targets big infrastructure by encouraging green investments in industrial buildings, cutting down deforestation rates, as well as promoting the growth of agriculture.

Economically, by eliminating carbon emissions, more than $500 billion will go towards Brazil’s gross domestic product. These new funds will create around two million new jobs for the unemployed population. Because Brazil is an underdeveloped country, it relies heavily on foreign aid to boost its economy; attaining foreign investments from private companies has allowed for the creation of new environment-friendly markets. Through promotion of low carbon emissions, Brazil’s economy increased its GDP, indicating an improved economy.

Educating Brazil’s Future

In Brazil, 70% of children attend public schools. An average school day is around four and a half hours, but dilatory activities such as passing papers out or attendance often decrease the valuable time that could be dedicated to education. Only around 2% of impoverished Brazilian students will obtain enough education to improve their opportunities and livelihoods.

In 2017, the Connected Education Innovation Programme was started in order to provide technological resources for students. These resources include screens and reliable internet to help children achieve better quality education. In 2018, over seven million students profited from the Connected Education Innovation Programme. As the world progresses technologically, including these innovations helps improve a child’s likeliness to willingly participate in learning. Expanding these resources would go a long way in fostering a fun and safe learning environment.

Conditional Cash Transfers

In Brazil, the main conditional cash transfer program is called Bolsa Familia, or BFP. Conditional cash transfer programs are used in developing countries to provide welfare services for impoverished communities. BFP has helped Brazil’s impoverished population by improving the electronic monitoring of social services and the eligibility of low-income families.

BFP reduced Brazil’s extreme poverty rates by almost 60% and poverty by 30% between 2004 and 2014. By 2018, the program had reached more than 45 million people and created more than 20 social programs. By improving cash transfers, low-income individuals are able to gain access to services that benefit them financially.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence in Brazil is a recent addition to the country’s innovations. By the year 2030, Brazil predicts that around $15 trillion will be contributed to the world’s economy by the use of artificial intelligence technologies. Public transportation is a big factor where artificial intelligence comes into play in Brazil, as well as disease control.

In 2035, Brazil hopes to increase its gross value to more than $430 billion. Manufacturing makes up 12% of Brazil’s economy, which is another category in Brazil that is experimenting with new artificial intelligence machinery to benefit the economy. Through the usage of artificial intelligence in Brazil, higher levels of productivity are seen which helps increase the flow of Brazil’s economy.

 

These four innovations in poverty eradication in Brazil will help the nation further reduce its poverty rate. Increasing jobs, providing high quality education, offering cash options and bolstering the economy are all essential to this goal. Moving forward, it is essential that the Brazilian government and humanitarian organizations continue to prioritize poverty reduction.

– Karina Wong
Photo: Flickr

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

Development Projects in BrazilDevelopment 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 the 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 by 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

Brazil's Poverty Rate
In a mere decade, Brazil’s extreme poverty rate has dropped dramatically. In fact, among the BRIC nations, Brazil has the second-lowest percentage of its population living under the poverty line. Former President Lula’s unprecedented Bolsa Família Program (BF) is modestly responsible for this success.  In 2003, Brazil’s poverty rate stood at 9.7%; in 2013, that percentage was down to 4.3.

The concept of the Bolsa Família program is straightforward and trusting. The BF gives low-income families small cash transfers and in return, the families attend preventative health care visits and keep their children in school.  Bolsa Família has both short and long term goals. In the short term, BF has exceeded expectations.

Not only has BF help halve the poverty rate, but it has also improved income equality by 15%. Historically, Brazil has struggled with social and economic equality. As recent as the 1980s and 1990s, the nation’s poorest 60 percent of the population had only four percent of the total wealth.

The BF’s long term goals are grounded in sustainability, for it provides a more promising future for the youth generation. Through education and health, the BF works to give children opportunities to prosper later in life.  This work breaks the cycle of poverty that many in Brazil face.

The likelihood of a 15-year-old girl being in school has already increased by 21%, and infant mortality rates have significantly dropped. Long term monitoring is required to see the actual long term benefits of the program, but thus far the evidence is encouraging.

Aside from the economic advantages of the program, Bolsa Família has also restored integrity and hope to Brazil’s poor. Most of the beneficiaries of BF are women, and female empowerment leads to a more educated, efficient and modern society.

The first of its kind of such a large scale, BF is an example for the rest of the world. By 2013, 120 different delegations had visited Brazil to find out more about the program, and similar cash transfer programs have already popped up in 40 countries.

BF may be a simple concept, but its innovation and success are far-reaching. By providing 50 million people, or ¼ of the population, with small, monthly cash transfers, Bolsa Família has slashed Brazil’s poverty rate and given poor children better futures.

However, Bolsa Familia is only one part of the government’s four-pronged solution for fighting poverty in Brazil. Other strategies include setting the minimum wage, providing support for rural families, and creating a more formalized employment system.

Catherine Fredette

Photo: Flickr

How Dilma Rousseff's Impeachment Impacts People Living in Poverty and What Can Be Done to Help
Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil since 2011, has been impeached after breaking rules surrounding manipulation of the federal budget. More specifically, it is believed that she masked the full extent of Brazil’s economic crisis when she ran for re-election in 2014.

Prior to Rousseff’s impeachment, she argued that if she were to be impeached, Brazil’s economic troubles would only worsen. This is because a governmental change this big is felt most strongly by the poorest in society, who are most dependent on the federal government.

Rousseff’s successor, Michel Temer, stated that he hopes to reduce public spending by increasing taxes on the lower and middle classes. He also stated that social programs aiding the poor will not be immune from budget cuts.

One example of a social program helping Brazil’s poor is Bolsa Familia. During her tenure, Rousseff was an advocate for this program, which gives stipends averaging $50 per month to 47 million Brazilian citizens — nearly 25 percent of the country’s population. Dilma Rousseff had recently increased spending toward this program by 9 percent and had also reworked the definition of poverty in order to allow more people to qualify for benefits.

The only conditions for citizens to receive Bolsa Familia’s benefits are that their children be vaccinated and regularly attend school. Despite the fact that the funds help lift people out of poverty and improve community infrastructures, the social program still requires public spending.  According to Temer, this kind of program will not be immune from spending cuts, which could seriously impact the millions of citizens who rely on government assistance for survival.

On a more hopeful note, Temer is confident that he can help Brazil make an economic recovery, despite the ramifications the poor may face. He intends to reform Brazil’s costly pension system, possibly by defining a minimum age of retirement.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Temer’s ideologies and proposed policies, it is reasonable to believe that major policy changes are the only way to get out of an economic depression. Temer has been vocal about his preparedness to make these major policy changes. While they may negatively impact Brazil’s poorest citizens in the short run, the country’s economy may ultimately recover, resulting in a better quality of life for all.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr