Portugal’s Foreign AidAlthough Portugal only provides a limited amount of foreign aid compared to its Development Assistance Committee (DAC) counterparts, the country has been focusing its development strategy on the most deprived countries. In 2022, Portugal allocated $504.7 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Notably, 69.8% of this aid was directed toward Least Developed Countries (LDCs), representing the highest share among DAC members. This trend continued in 2021 when 61.3% of Portugal’s foreign aid was dedicated to fragile contexts.

Portugal’s ODA in Post-Conflict Settings

Foreign aid that Portugal disbursed has enabled several countries to limit and recover from conflicts. In Mozambique, Portugal has been providing vital assistance in the context of the Cabo Delgado Province insurgency. Back in 2019, the Mozambique Recovery and Reconstruction Support Fund, which Portugal implemented, enabled civil society programs to receive direct funds from private and public sector organizations in Portugal. In cooperation with the EU, the country also set up the +Emprego program in 2020, which improved youth employment, prevented radicalization and delivered humanitarian assistance. By stabilizing the situation, Portugal’s foreign aid thus prevented many people’s living conditions from worsening.

Similarly, Portugal significantly helped in the East Timorese transition after 1999 by providing non-negligible humanitarian assistance. Timor-Leste, still considered a fragile state, cooperates closely with Portugal toward reducing poverty and bolstering development in this country. 

Portugal’s Work in Social Infrastructures

Portugal, as part of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), has approved the Strategy for Food and Nutritional Security. Structured around three core principles, this program strives to establish and bolster effective governance and policies related to food security. Simultaneously, it seeks to promptly enhance food accessibility for the most vulnerable populations while also fostering increased food availability. As a strategic component of this initiative, the CPLP has successfully instituted National Food and Nutritional Security Councils in São Tomé, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau.

Moreover, the program involves a Family Farming Work Group tasked with drafting guidelines as part of the program’s objective to enhance food availability. 

The country also participates in strengthening health systems in CPLP countries. Portugal has equipped Guinea-Bissau with laboratories to ensure its partner is prepared to face an Ebola crisis. In collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Portuguese government played a crucial role in distributing medical supplies. It provided 5,000 medical masks and 200,000 masks in the Maputo Province of Mozambique. This essential donation not only ensured the protection of those in need but also sustained economic and social activities.

Portuguese ODA and the Environment 

Out of its total bilateral allocable aid, Portugal spent 7.5% toward supporting the environment in 2020-2021. This can seem trivial compared to the DAC average (34.3%), but the country has made some important contributions to fighting climate change in developing countries. The OECD highlighted Portugal’s commitment to ocean protection, demonstrated when the country co-hosted the 2022 UN Ocean Conference. 

Moreover, Portugal is supporting the Carbon Sustainability and Ecosystem Services Roadmap in the Principe Island of São Tomé and Principe, which is analyzing the island nation’s carbon emission and removal and making projections for possible reduction. The project will conclude with recommendations that aim to support decision-making concerning carbon emission mitigation. 

In Guinea-Bissau, the Collective and Territorial Integrated Actions for the Valorisation of Agriculture (dubbed EU-ACTIVA) has the objective of enabling agricultural intensification while guaranteeing it remains sustainable. Approximately 4,000 families will receive training that enables them to teach others effective techniques for cultivating the local soil in accordance with climate patterns. By doing so, this initiative will ensure improved living conditions for the residents of Guinea-Bissau.

Room for Improvement

Despite all those significant contributions and achievements, there is still more Portugal’s foreign aid could do to improve the conditions of the world’s poor. The OECD points out that Portugal only invests 0.23% of its Gross National Income in ODA, and thus still has not reached the 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio that it has committed to, and still fares behind fellow DAC members. The organization also recommends that Portugal put more emphasis on long-term objectives and results to achieve more sustainable change in partnerships with other countries. 

However, Portugal’s vital work toward developing LDCs and improving the lives of those that inhabit them demonstrates the country’s enthusiasm when it comes to tackling poverty, and is a positive sign indicating the potential implementation of more effort in the future. 

– Kenza Oulammou
Photo: Unsplash

Migration to PortugalPortugal, a coastal country known for its colorfully-tiled sunny beach towns, is increasingly gaining a reputation as a destination for migrants looking to work in the European Union. In fact, over the last five years, Portugal’s immigrant population has increased by nearly 70%. In 2020, the number of people that acquired Portuguese citizenship stood at nearly twice that of the previous year. This increase in migration to Portugal stems from the needs of both the country as a whole and the migrants themselves.

The Benefits that Migrants Bring to Portugal

Portuguese citizens, as EU members, have the legal right to both live and work in other European Union countries. This includes countries like Germany and France, which have higher wages and better living conditions than Portugal. As a result, Portugal has a high rate of citizens that emigrate outside of the country, leaving the economy with a need for a replacement labor force.

Not only do migrants remedy the country’s labor shortage but they also bring in tax revenue and contribute to Portugal’s Social Security. Migrants even create jobs by starting businesses of their own, opening grocery stores foreign cuisine restaurants, hair salons and more. This enriches the diversity and vibrancy of the country while stimulating the economy.

What Brings Migrants to Portugal?

To fulfill that basic economic need for labor, Portugal has constructed a legal framework for immigration that is highly beneficial to incoming migrants. In June 2022, Portugal’s minister of foreign and parliamentary affairs announced that the nation would dissolve the quota regime and provide for a six-month work-seeking visa.

Even those without a visa, undocumented migrants, are permitted to apply for work. Once they have secured a job, they can apply for residency. Even “proof of legal entry” requirements in applying for residency status within the country are typically informally lax. Once a resident, migrants can have their families join them and enjoy the same legal status of residency. After five years, a resident can “qualify for a Portuguese passport of their own.” This ease on the path to a passport is a primary perk of migration to Portugal, alluring enough to make up for the relatively low wages offered in the country.

The largest group of migrants in the country are Brazilians, followed by another Portuguese-speaking country, Cape Verde. Both are steeped in poverty, with the most recent estimates of Cabo Verde’s national poverty rate standing at 35% as of 2015. In Brazil, about 27 million people lived under the national poverty line in 2021. With a national poverty rate of 16.2% as of 2019, Portugal offers a gateway out of deeply impoverished communities.

Once a migrant secures a European Union passport, they are free to move toward the wealthy economic core of Europe that draws Portuguese nationals as well, with the promise of higher wages. This allows migrants and their families to pursue opportunities to move toward the higher quality of life they imagined when they chose to leave their homelands.

– Grace Ramsey
Photo: Flickr

Health and Human Rights of RefugeesOne of the most important factors in beating the coronavirus is ensuring that everybody has access to public health. According to The New Humanitarian, this has pushed numerous governments to double down on their efforts to protect the health and human rights of refugees, migrant workers and asylum seekers who may have not been able to afford access to these services pre-COVID.

In March as the worldwide outbreaks quadrupled and human rights organizations around the world urged governments the dangers the coronavirus would impose on refugees and asylum seekers. The World Health Organization, the UNHCR and several other organizations put out a joint press release that pressured governments to release migrants and undocumented individuals from immigration detention centers as well as include them in public health relief efforts. Here are three countries that have prioritized protecting the health and human rights of refugees during COVID-19. They show that these policies could be sustained even beyond the crisis.

Countries Protecting the Health and Human Rights of Refugees During COVID-19

  1. Italy: Italy has one of the highest infection rates with 238,159 confirmed cases and 34,514 deaths. Italy’s fields have also attracted migrant workers from Eastern Europe. On May 13, the Italian government passed an amnesty law allowing around 200,000 migrant workers and undocumented refugees to apply for healthcare and 6-month legal residency permits. The downside of this new step is that the bill only applies to agricultural workers, leaving out many of the workers in the informal sector who perform labor in construction or food services.
  2. Portugal: Migrants and asylum seekers in Portugal with applications that are still in process are now being granted early access to public services that include welfare, rental contracts, bank accounts and national health service. Claudia Veloso, the spokesperson for Portugal’s chapter of the Ministry of International Affairs, told Reuters that “people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not been processed yet.”
  3. Brazil: Brazil has the highest rate of outbreaks second to the United States, and President Jair Bolsonaro has continuously dismissed the severity of the virus and failed to respond effectively to outbreaks. So, it has fallen to local community organizations, donors and local authorities to enforce these regulations and double down on the effort to get everybody treated. The Paraisópolis community group started running a quarantine center in partnership with health workers, NGOs and medical centers. The center has around 240 volunteers monitoring the health of at least 50 families at a time. It acquired sanitation supplies and personal protection equipment through crowdfunding. The group is providing food and medical aid to undocumented migrants.

Amnesty International stated that in order to fix the refugee crisis “the world urgently needs a new, global plan based on genuine international cooperation and a meaningful and fair sharing of responsibilities.” Policy experts are hopeful that these new policies will help governments to consider new possibilities for a more humane approach to helping displaced migrants and asylum seekers in the future. The health and human rights of refugees need to be protected.

Isabel Corp
Photo: Flickr

Portugal Refugees
Far from the refugee camps of Eastern Europe, Portugal is rarely associated with the term “refugee.” Its location presented an obstacle for refugees fleeing countries such as Syria. But the Portuguese prime minister is determined to change the idea that Portugal is not a country welcoming refugees. With the help of the European Union, Portugal is increasing refugee quotas and welcoming unprecedented numbers. These 10 facts about Portugal refugees show the newfound commitment of the Portuguese to refugees.

  1. The European Union unveiled a new plan to relocate refugees from Italy and Greece to Portugal. This made Portugal third on the list of countries for the number of refugees it will welcome under the plan.
  2. In 2015, Portugal received 872 requests for asylum. Of these requests, 19 were from Syria, five were from Iraq, and four were from Afghanistan.
  3. Portugal is undeniably prepared to handle the increase in refugees as it was ranked second, behind Sweden, for its accomplishments for assimilating refugees into society.
  4. The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a five-day course for medical professionals to educate them on refugee health. Portugal has sent representatives to the course in order to become prepared for the increase of refugees to which it has committed. The course will cover how to assist refugees in finding healthcare, why it is economically important to focus on the health of migrants and applicable strategies that focus on refugee populations.
  5. World Refugee Day ushered in opportunities all over the world for refugees. Starbucks announced its plan to hire 2,500 refugees all over the world, including in Portugal.
  6. Prime minister António Costa increased the number of refugees from 4,000 to 10,000 in an apparent effort to boost the economy. This has led to refugee relocation across Portugal in an attempt to increase job growth.
  7. Pão a Pão, a restaurant in Lisbon, gave refugees around the city a new start. The majority of its employees are refugees, cooking bread from their place of origin.
  8. Although Portugal became a rising star in terms of their commitment to refugees, some have criticized the move as simply a way to boost the population. The economic crisis sent many Portuguese citizens abroad in search of employment.
  9. Portugal is a widely Catholic country that listens intently to the words of the Pope, and thus takes his lead on various social issues. His recent interest in the refugee crisis contributed to Portugal’s willingness to accept more migrants.
  10. Portugal continually struggled to attract refugees as the location is distant from where they begin their journey. Many refugees aim for Central Europe because of the perceived wealth, with Portugal never appearing on their radar.

The experience of Portugal refugees shows that this Western European country could soon be center stage in terms of migrant numbers. Portugal is ramping up preparations to accept thousands of more immigrants and sees the refugee crisis as an opportunity to grow its population and economy. These facts about Portugal refugees prove that Portugal is a country refugees should be seeking.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Google

In 2001, Portugal passed Law 20/3000, which eliminated criminal charges for possession and usage of all illicit drugs. The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal does not mean that drugs are legal; rather, it means that drug usage and possession no longer automatically result in criminal actions.

An important component of Portugal’s drug policy is the distinction between recreational and addicted drug users. Those who are using a drug recreationally are fined, while those identified as drug addicts are offered enrollment in a government-funded treatment program. Another vital distinction in the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal is that drug dealers are still subject to criminal charges. The distinction between drug dealers and personal users is determined by supply at the time of apprehension. Those with less than a 10-day supply of drugs are subject to a fine and treatment program but not jail time.

The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal arose primarily as a response to the country’s heroin epidemic in the 1990s. At the time, nearly 1 percent of the country’s population was addicted to heroin, one of the worst drug epidemics globally. In the 15 years since decriminalization, the results have been generally positive. Drug-related HIV infections have been reduced by 95 percent, and Portugal’s drug-induced mortality rate is five times lower than the European Union average.

Fifteen years after its introduction, the success of decriminalization of drugs in Portugal is a great and somewhat unexpected accomplishment. Drug usage has not increased, though the rates of illicit drug use have mostly remained unchanged in the last 15 years. Furthermore, the number of individuals enrolled in voluntary drug treatment programs has increased by 60 percent. Treatments are developed with a holistic understanding of addiction, with options such as access to mobile methadone clinics and non-12-step treatment programs.

The logic behind the decision for the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal was that jailing drug users did not lead to a reduction in drug use and further removed individuals from society, exacerbating issues like isolation and poverty that lead to drug usage and addiction. Drug addiction is a challenge faced in many countries across the globe, and it frequently affects those in poverty or drives individuals into poverty. The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has shifted the treatment of drug addiction from a criminal issue to a health issue, focusing on social determinants and mental health. This alternative approach to the War on Drugs has proved successful for Portugal so far and could serve as a model for other countries to follow.

Nicole Toomey

Photo: Flickr

Historically, Portugal has had disadvantages when it comes to education. Now in the middle of an economic crisis, the government is trying to find solutions, find jobs for graduates and figure out how to improve education overall.

However, schools are facing budget cuts due to the country’s debt. Teachers, curriculum and funding are all being chopped as the country scrambles to dig itself out of its financial crisis. With cuts like these, the country is facing the fact that 63 percent of adults have not even finished high school.

Even while experiencing an economic downfall, Portugal has recently seen a decrease in dropout rates. In 2005 there was a dropout rate of 39 percent, but in 2011, that number dropped to 21 percent. This decrease in dropouts could be contributed to the government’s many cuts to school programs and the fear and extreme competitiveness students will face finding the few jobs that are available upon graduation.

Overall the country is facing a 14 percent unemployment rate, while among youth there is an unemployment rate of 35 percent.

Although these numbers are discouraging, with a flood in the Asian market in tech products, Portugal hopes to follow the trend of producing high tech products and investing in renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, which will hopefully stimulate the economy and help provide jobs to both the less educated adults and to the educated youth.

In the past year, Portugal has seen some improvements in its economy and education system. The budget deficit fell from 11.2 percent of GDP in 2010 to 3.5 percent in 2015 while unemployment fell from 12.4 percent in 2015 to 11.3 percent in 2016.

In 2016, Portugal’s school of architecture was regarded as one of the most famous, prestigious architecture schools in the world. In addition, the country has tried to increase student enrollment with the specific curriculum in social sciences, engineering and a cheap education. In fact, the country is known as a great place to study abroad because of its cheap tuition and cultural background.

Teaching students around the world Portuguese language and culture and showing students the various natural wonders have helped attract students to Portugal to learn and enhance their knowledge.

The vast history, language, culture and improving economy have contributed to the mending of education in Portugal.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

According to U.S. News, Portugal is ranked number 19 in the world for quality of life. Quality of life encompasses factors such as economic stability, education, healthcare and income equality. Considering that quality of life is so high, it might come as a surprise that there is still a serious issue with hunger in Portugal. The country is part of the European Union and has been designated as a high-income country by the World Bank with a GDP per capita of $27,885. More than 60 percent of the population is living in urban spaces.

With life expectancies at 79 years old, 100 percent of the population have drinking water, more than 99 percent have access to sanitation facilities, and more than a 95 percent literacy rate, hunger and other issues typically stemming from poverty may not seem to be as pressing as they might in other countries.

Portugal’s unemployment rate was estimated to be around 10 percent in 2016. This number reflects improvement from 2012, where nearly 19 percent of the population was living in poverty. Poverty and hunger in Portugal are inextricably intertwined. Unfortunately, the shame of the impoverished Portuguese is so strong that they often feel as if they are unable to escape their current state, which affects their self-esteem.

According to Misericordia president Manuel Lemos, there are some people who live beyond their means or some who will not seek out help because of the shame associated with hardship in the country. Despite promising statistics, there is still work to do to end hunger in Portugal.

Shannon Elder

Global Health Security AgendaA new tool for assessing progress toward the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) goals has now been piloted in five countries, the CDC reports. International health organizations in Georgia, Peru, Portugal, Uganda and the UK have all submitted evaluations of the assessment.

The Global Health Security Agenda was launched in 2014 as a way to bring focus to the need for a global health strategy that would respond quickly and effectively to potential epidemics — a need that was highlighted later that year by an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

“GHSA is about strengthening health systems for every country,” said U.S. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins. “That means GHSA will help to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to infectious diseases like Ebola.”

The assessment is designed to measure baselines and strategies for potential improvement in regards to 11 action packages developed by GHSA countries in 2014.

Following the “Prevent-Detect-Respond” framework, these action packages include, among others, preventing microbial resistance, strengthening biosecurity, delivering immunizations, facilitating surveillance and reporting, fostering global communication and coordinating emergency response deployment and operations.

Each pilot country was scored on their capacity to take these actions based on indicators such as having biosecurity training programs, proper communication practices, national vaccine coverage, trained epidemiologists and resources to implement emergency responses. The teams then evaluated the assessment itself to determine if it was constructive and scalable.

Evaluators in Portugal, which is considered to have a strong health security strategy, noted several important improvements the assessment needs to undergo before it is launched on a broader scale.

They say that current indicators do not reflect global objectives as closely as they could. They recommended pulling indicators from existing global health initiatives (such as the Global Vaccine Action Plan) in order to maintain a focus.

Evaluators also noted that their team was given a limited amount of time to complete their assessment. This prevented them from conducting random samples from various regions across the country, in order to verify the information they received from the central health ministry. They also noted a lack of efficiency in the process stemming from the fact that the country being evaluated was not given the assessment ahead of time. The evaluators therefore suggest giving assessment missions a three-month lead time in order to properly prepare.

Overall, the teams think the tool is a promising step in assessing progress toward the Global Health Security Agenda. With further development, they are confident it can be launched in all partner countries.

Ron Minard

Sources: Borgen Project, CDC, Huffington Post
Picture: Google Images

charity in portugalIn Obidos, Portugal, an annual event brings the community together through the celebration of history, good times and charity.

Over the course of the past week, I have had the pleasure of exploring the beautiful country of Portugal. From the vast beaches to the incredible countryside to the upbeat city of Lisbon, there is so much to do and experience. As my family and I ventured through the country, we came across one particular event that seemed to be getting a lot of attention.

In the old countryside town of Obidos stands a beautiful medieval castle that has been restored and maintained over the years. As you enter the castle, as in many medieval-themed towns and cities throughout Europe, there are plenty of people dressed up for the occasion as well as vendors and artisans selling their handmade foods and goods.

Although this may seem like many other festivals and markets around the world, this one was unique because of the charitable aspect that tied into it. As you enter the market, you pay a small fee depending on the experience you wish to have, which can include things like walking around the castle, seeing parades, watching reenactments of battles and having an authentic medieval meal. Most things are very reasonably priced and the people are very friendly; many of them get into the spirit and dress up as well!

When my family and I were dining, we spoke to some of the vendors and realized that the majority of the people working at the festival were volunteers. Each food stand, for example, had a particular charity in Portugal that they were raising money for, and all the proceeds would go towards that charity of their choosing. Although not all of the vendors were volunteers, many of them were.

Thus, the fun and entertaining experience was not only for good times and a lesson in the country’s history, but was also for helping out a good cause! It was wonderful to see how people came together and used an event such as this to do some good for the community. The festival ends on August 2; however, it is an annual event that lasts for a few weeks, from July through early August.

To learn more about this event and the different charities that it benefits, visit their website.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Obidos Mercado Medieval
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poverty in Portugal
Poverty in Portugal? By any account, Portugal is a developed nation. With 10.61 million citizens, Portugal produces $220 billion in products and services, and the country’s GNI per capita is slightly over $24 thousand. All of Portugal’s citizens have access to clean water, and life expectancy is 80 years old, just below the average for high-income countries.

According to the United Nations Development Program, Portugal ranks 41 for human development and is considered to have very high development. By economic and social indicators, Portugal is well above the world average for human development.

Despite Portugal’s high human development, many of its citizens live in, or are in danger of, living in poverty. In 2012, roughly a quarter of Portugal’s population were “at risk” of poverty or social exclusion, according to Eurostat data. Individuals are often at risk of falling into poverty because social programs and spending have been cut.

In 2011, for example, the Portuguese government cut public sector wages, increased taxes and slashed spending on social welfare programs that provided social security benefits. The austerity measures were adopted as part of a larger goal to reduce the deficit below 5.9 percent. Although successful in reducing the deficit, the austerity measures severely harmed the status of Portuguese workers and those in need of public support.

Spending for education and family support programs decreased, and child poverty subsequently increased. According to UNICEF data, over 15 percent of children under the age of 17 years old lived in households earning less than the national median. That means a substantial share of the nation’s youth lived in unfavorable conditions because of aggressive policies.

Moving forward, for the poorest to receive the attention and services they need, Portuguese officials must prioritize their interests when addressing spending debacles. Addressing the greater issue of inefficient government spending and programs necessitates a prudent approach to policy decisions. The Portuguese can continue their growth of high human development and maintain healthy levels of government spending concurrently. However, policy officials need to be creative and show deference to the poor.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: The World Bank, UNDP, Eurostat, BBC, The Washington Post
Photo: 9jabook