As the curtain of the World Cup comes down, the fever and enthusiasm for soccer are going to be put aside for a while. In addition to hosting a seemingly successful World Cup, Brazil is facing numerous social issues such as economic inequality.
Brazil has one of the highest Gini Coefficients, which indicates how unequal the nation’s social distribution is. The richest 10 percent of population is controlling 42.7 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 34 percent own only 1.2 percent. According to the figures of IBGE (Brazil’s government statistics bureau), approximately 16.2 million people (8.5 percent of the country’s population) live under around $1.30 per day.
The disparities are too obvious to ignore. People can feel the inequality right away by standing in front of the expensive beachfront apartments, with favelas (a Portuguese term for a slum) next to these displays of wealth. “Paradise for the rich” has become one of the nicknames for Brazil. To eradicate this social problem, the government has come out with the Brazil Without Misery program.
The central part of the program is the Bolsa Familia cash transfer program started in 2003, which gives low-income families cash from $15 to $95 per month according to per capita income. In return, the families promise to send their children to local schools.
The second step of the program is to put more people under the protection of healthcare and the benefits of public infrastructure. Third, the Busca Activa (or “active search”) aims to help the poorest who are isolated due to geological reasons or lack of information. The Busca Activa has registered 678,000 families who were previously unnoticed.
The Brazil Without Misery program aims to eradicate poverty by 2014. It is the middle of July, but there are still millions of people remaining homeless, living in slums and under the poverty line. Problems such as corruption still riddle the country.
In 2013, Pope Francis visited the slums in Brazil, scolding the rich and corrupted who put themselves before the people. Just like he said, a “culture of solidarity” should replace “selfishness and individualism.” Clearly, there is still a long road ahead if Brazil is to solve its issues of inequality.
– Jing Xu
Sources: Chaurahha, Reuters, The Rio Times
Photo: Insight Guides