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Social JusticeSamba music is a staple of Brazil’s urban culture, from influences found in African drum patterns brought over by enslaved people to the now world-famous Brazilian carnival. This style of music provides communities with opportunities for bonding and culture away from poverty. In recent years, communities brought together by Samba music have also become advocates for social justice. Amid Brazil’s political turmoil during the Bolsonaro years, jam sessions became both moments of release and powerful meeting points in favor of social justice.

A Brief History of Samba Music

Samba Music originates from drum patterns transported across the Atlantic by enslaved people taken from their homeland to work on the Brazilian plantations. Originally, the word Samba is thought to derive from the Kimbundu term “Semba” loosely translatable as “invitation to dance” or designating the informal parties held by slaves in Rio’s rural areas. In the early 20th century, following the abolition of slavery in 1888, Samba grew in popularity and enriched its tradition through exposure to other genres of popular music also brought to Brazil by immigration. German polka or Cuban Habanera brought song structure and lyrics to the rhythmic form leading to an early style of Samba popular among Brazil’s aristocracy, pairing slower tempos with melancholic and romantic lyrics.

However, it was during the ’50s in the favelas that Samba took on its most popular shape. In these poor urban areas, faster rhythms were oriented toward communal events like the Carnival, where bands of musicians would rehearse all year round to perform at the event. During the 50s, Brazil saw its music export grow considerably, with the likes of Gilberto and Jobin popularising Bossa Nova in cooperation with American jazz musicians. With the now world-renowned fame of the genre, urban populations have incorporated other styles of music into Samba, such as jungle drum patterns. Its strong association with the Carnival and urban popular culture pairs samba music and social justice deep within its roots.

Samba Music and Social Justice

As a style of music popular at its chore, the popularity of Samba intertwined its development with social justice struggles in the country. In the ’30s, during the dictatorship of General Getulio, Samba music offered a rallying crowd where protesters could mask socially engaged lyrics within the music and avoid censorship. This trend continued during the military dictatorship of the ’60s and ’70s. Carnivals offered moments of reversals of social structures, allowing a release for much of the grievances built out of social inequality and income disparity.

The music also grew as a tool for affirmation and protestation against racial injustices plaguing the country. The 1988 Carnival theme “One Hundred Years of Freedom: Reality or Illusion” asked burning questions amid the celebration of the 100 years of slavery’s abolition. The harsh conditions in urban slums were highlighted, pegging the question of true social evolution since the abolition of slavery.

Samba Music and Social Justice Today

Today, much of Brazil’s poverty remains urban. The United Nations (U.N.) reports that 72% of the country’s poor live in urban areas, with rates of informal settlements climbing as high as 22.15% in Rio de Janeiro and 54.47% in Belèm. Those tough circumstances are further reinforced by high rates of criminality in poor urban areas and high rates of inequalities across the country; Brazil clocks in as one of the most unequal countries in the world. Samba music in these underprivileged areas offers moments of community cohesion and peace.

Different institutions, such as the Renaissance Club in Rio de Janeiro, became a stronghold for social justice protests and community-led actions. Upholding, at its root, both the Afro-Brazilian roots of the music style and the historically underprivileged positions occupied in society as part of the same fight. Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the high death toll that struck poor urban communities hard, the Renaissance Club was a place in which the grievances of the community could be expressed through music and raise voices of social equality across race and economic backgrounds. The Club shows that samba music and social justice are still interlinked both by their heritage and current issues.

– Felix Stephens

Felix is based in London, UK and focuses on Business and New Markets and Politics for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Urban Farming in São PauloAs one of the largest cities in the world, São Paulo faces numerous challenges, including poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation. However, innovative initiatives centered around urban agriculture are offering a ray of hope for its residents. The movement to make urban areas greener and more sustainable has been gaining ground in Brazil and worldwide since the early 2000s. Moreso, urban farming in São Paulo is emerging as a pivotal strategy to address ongoing issues, highlighting its growing importance in the city’s efforts to improve the quality of life for its residents.

Urban Farming in São Paulo

Urban farming refers to growing fruits, vegetables and herbs within urban areas, utilizing limited space such as rooftops, vacant lots and community gardens. In São Paulo, where access to fresh, nutritious food can be scarce in low-income neighborhoods, urban farming initiatives are playing a crucial role in addressing food deserts and improving food security. By bringing agriculture closer to urban dwellers, these initiatives reduce the distance food needs to travel from farm to table, thereby lowering costs and increasing accessibility.

Despite the numerous benefits of urban farming, it still faces challenges and limitations. Land tenure issues, limited access to resources and bureaucratic hurdles can hinder the scalability and sustainability of urban farming initiatives. In addition, the unequal distribution of wealth and resources within the city exacerbates existing disparities, making it difficult for some communities to fully engage with urban farming efforts.

Environmental Impact of Urban Farming

Urban farming in São Paulo has environmental benefits that extend beyond its economic and social impacts. By converting vacant lots into green spaces, urban farms help mitigate the urban heat island effect, improve air quality and promote biodiversity. Additionally, these initiatives often employ sustainable farming practices such as composting, rainwater harvesting and organic cultivation methods, thereby reducing the city’s ecological footprint and enhancing its resilience to climate change.

Hortelões Urbanos

The Hortelões Urbanos network or Urban Horticulturists, stands out as a leading initiative in São Paulo. Its members champion food autonomy and strive to lessen reliance on traditional farming practices, agribusiness and large retailers. Key principles of the network include fostering equal partnerships between rural and urban communities and opposing the adverse effects of agribusiness on natural resources, transportation, excessive packaging, waste production and labor exploitation.

Nagib and Nakamura report that initiatives like these promote the sharing of experiences and information about urban agriculture, whether at the household or community level. Involving residents in the cultivation process fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment within these communities.

Urban farming in São Paulo offers economic opportunities for vulnerable populations, thereby contributing to poverty alleviation. Through training programs and cooperatives, individuals living in impoverished areas are equipped with the knowledge and resources to grow their food or even start small-scale agricultural businesses. By selling surplus produce at local markets or participating in community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, urban farmers can potentially generate additional income, thus reducing their reliance on expensive store-bought groceries and improving their financial stability.

Looking Ahead

Urban farming offers significant potential as a strategy for reducing poverty and developing communities in São Paulo. The ongoing initiatives enhance access to fresh food, generate economic opportunities and promote environmental sustainability, presenting a comprehensive solution to the intricate issues urban populations encounter. As São Paulo expands and progresses, urban farming is poised to play a crucial role in the city’s endeavors to create a more equitable and resilient environment for all residents.

– Rhys Woodward

Rhys is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and focuses on World News for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Child Hunger in Brazil - The Sesc Mesa ProgrammeThe Guardian reports that child hunger in Brazil is a critical issue. It also notes that the country loses about 26.3 million tonnes of food each year in production and transportation. In addition, Brazilian households discard around 60 kilograms of food per capita annually. This wastage contrasts starkly with the country’s undernourishment issues, as the Food and Agriculture Organization reports that about 7% of Brazilians are undernourished. Hence, redirecting the excess food waste could make it easier for the 10 million Brazilians struggling to feed their families. Brazil’s largest network of Food Banks, Sesc Mesa aims to capitalize on this opportunity.

Sesc Mesa and Its Mission

Sesc Mesa operates more than 95 units nationwide to ensure children in Brazil attend school, nursery or play groups well-nourished. A key depot in Rio de Janeiro serves as a prime example of how organizations like Sesc Mesa address Brazil’s food shortage on a national scale. Covering 400 square feet in Rio’s northern suburbs, the program’s depot recovers unsellable food from supermarkets and collects wonky or otherwise deemed unfit produce from farms, where most of Brazil’s food wastage happens, for supermarkets and restaurants.

Cida Pessoa, program manager for Sesc Mesa in Rio, says, “People want nature to be completely uniform, for carrots to grow in the same way, for papayas to come without spots, for apples to be identical,” leading to vast amounts of perfectly good produce being wasted. This could otherwise help solve Brazil’s undernourishment crisis. After gathering the undesirable produce, Sesc Mesa donates it to soup kitchens, schools, nurseries and other institutions that provide free meals, ensuring daily nourishment for those in need. Due to the program’s success, Sesc Mesa is relocating to a facility 12 times larger. Moreover, this expansion means the potential to feed 12 times more children. With Sesc Mesa feeding 2.1 million people monthly in 2023, the impact of this growth is unmistakable.

Educational Events

Sesc Mesa also organizes educational activities, including courses, classes, seminars and workshops for corporate donors, social institutions and communities. These programs aim to offer information, guidance and training on food hygiene and proper handling. The goal is to maximize the use of foods for preparing safe, healthy and balanced meals for Brazil’s hungry population.

Expanding the Program’s Success

Looking ahead, the efforts to combat child hunger in Brazil by organizations like Sesc Mesa illuminate a path toward a more nourished and prosperous nation. Through its innovative approach to redistributing food waste, it is not only addressing immediate nutritional needs but also fostering a culture of sustainability and care. The potential for international collaboration opens new avenues for expanding its impactful work, moving Brazil closer to eradicating hunger. As Sesc Mesa continues to grow, its model serves as a beacon for other countries grappling with similar issues, showcasing the transformative power of community-driven solutions. Ultimately, the fight against hunger in Brazil is a critical step toward enhancing education, employment and economic vitality in the post-pandemic world.

– Ethan Leyden

Ethan is based in Manchester, UK and focuses on Business and New Markets for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Unsplash

Creative WritingCreative writing often emerges as a valuable coping mechanism for mental health challenges. With many individuals experiencing situational depression, such as isolation, creative writing can serve as a means to connect and find solace within a community. Writing groups have increasingly become a famous avenue for individuals to gather, share their passions and support one another. In Brazil, where mental health services are overseen by the Psychological Care Network, i.e., Rede de Atenção Psicossocial (RAPS), incorporating creative writing initiatives into existing support structures could offer isolated individuals a pathway to community connection and emotional well-being.

Challenges in Mental Health Care: The Landscape in Brazil

In Brazil, individuals with disabilities are categorized as disability-adjusted life years (DALY), accounting for more than 7.5% of the nation’s mental health patients. Additionally, there are individuals classified as Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), encompassing a range of physical and psychological health conditions. Regrettably, the prevalence of mental health disorders has been increasing by 0.5% annually, resulting in 57.7% of the population experiencing such conditions as of 2023.

With more than half its population grappling with mental health issues, Brazil finds itself among the nations with the most significant challenges in mental health care. Despite efforts such as World Mental Health Day and other awareness campaigns, considerable strides are needed to address the nation’s mental well-being. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted the globe, imposing lockdown measures in many countries and exacerbating isolation for individuals battling depression. Among the people of Brazil, those residing in the northern regions bore the brunt of the pandemic, with around 84% experiencing depression or anxiety induced by isolation.

Strategies for Coping With Severe Depression

Individuals grappling with severe depression are frequently provided with coping mechanisms aimed at alleviating their anxieties. These strategies encompass a range of approaches, including breathwork, engaging in physical activities, practicing mindfulness and seeking support from loved ones or professional therapists.

Many therapists and mental health advocates endorse writing as a means to express and manage emotions, particularly anger or sadness, offering individuals a sense of empowerment over their narratives. The University of Cumbria promotes writing poetry as a therapeutic activity for National Poetry Day, encouraging students to explore a common theme and gather to share their creations.

In the United Kingdom (U.K.), poetry clubs have emerged as popular venues for isolated individuals to connect with like-minded peers and bond over shared literary interests while enjoying tea or coffee. Established organizations like the Poetry Society, which has been operating since 1909, offer platforms for writers worldwide to showcase their work, including through competitions. Notably, the organization has expanded its reach to publish the works of poets from countries beyond the U.K., such as Brazil, featuring poets like Adelia Prado.

Empowering Mental Health Initiatives 

Regrettably, the mental health campaign in Brazil has not reached as many individuals as intended, possibly due to inadequate funding for mental health services and historical reports of patient mistreatment in psychiatric hospitals during the ‘70s and ‘80s, which has left many Brazilians distrustful of such institutions.

Establishing a creative writing society in Brazil is an attainable goal. Taking inspiration from organizations like UK’s Poetry Society, a Brazilian-based website dedicated to creative writing, could gain traction swiftly and independently without relying on government funding.

 With access to the internet and basic computer skills, individuals can learn to set up and publish their websites, showcasing their literary creations to a global audience. Utilizing website builder tools like HubSpot, WiX, Adobe and IONOS, individuals can customize their platforms and even feature works from friends and family. This endeavor can evolve into a prominent creative writing platform, fostering community engagement and artistic expression. Pre-made platforms like YouTube or TikTok dedicated to content creation can be viable alternatives for those hesitant about website creation.

Individuals without internet access or those who prefer in-person interaction can distribute invitations via community boards or public information centers to promote poetry or creative writing gatherings. Numerous community facilities across Brazil offer spaces for both educational and recreational purposes, serving as ideal venues for hosting writing groups.

In 2018, an exceptional community center called Community Center Camburi was opened. It was built entirely from bamboo! Building the center from bamboo it saves Brazilian financial resources. Centers like Camburi can be used to serve as a place for creative writing groups and those artists can use their creative writing skills to influence others to be more environmentally friendly.

Conclusion

Through diligence, commitment and leveraging available resources, individuals in Brazil can unite around a common theme, fostering connections and reducing feelings of isolation as they exchange thoughts and ideas. Socializing can provide a reprieve from negative thoughts for those experiencing depression, igniting their interests and engaging with others, ideally leading to a more optimistic, vibrant and innovative future.

– Phoebe Vaughan
Photo: Unsplash

ETIV Do BrasilIn 2022, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reported more than 67 million Brazilians were living in poverty and an additional 12.7 million in extreme poverty. The organization ETIV do Brasil is working to change this. The organization has made educating Brazil’s youth and transforming the country’s environment its mission.

Poverty, Economic Inequality and Education in Brazil

In 2003, the Brazilian government implemented Bolsa Família, the Brazilian Cash Transfer, to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty. Following the Brazilian economic crisis in 2014 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the government expanded the program, hoping to actualize this goal. However, in 2022, the World Bank reported the poverty rate to be 24.3%, on par with statistics from 2014. Despite ongoing efforts to alleviate poverty in Brazil, the poverty rate has largely remained stagnant.

Economic disparity in the country is pronounced, with a notable contrast in wealth distribution. As of November 2023, data from Statista revealed that approximately 49% of Brazil’s wealth was concentrated within the top 1% of the population. In stark contrast, the bottom half of the population experienced a negative wealth of 0.4%, indicating that their debts exceeded their assets. The economic disparities in Brazil are most pronounced between the wealthier southern regions and the poorer northern areas, as well as between urban and rural areas and within cities.

In 2021, the World Bank reported Brazil had a Gini coefficient of 0.53, constituting the country as one of the most unequal countries in the entire world. Recognition and acknowledgment of economic inequality in Brazil is one of the first steps towards reducing poverty in the nation. This is because economic inequality strongly impacts education in Brazil due to the enrollment of students in higher education largely dependent on their family income.

ETIV do Brasil

ETIV do Brasil is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty among the youth in Itacaré, ensuring they have increased access to opportunities through education. Located in Itacaré, within the state of Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil, an area known for its economic challenges, the organization aims to uplift the local community. With approximately 15 million residents in Bahia, statistics indicate that around 42% of the population falls below the poverty line, while an additional 13% are extremely poor.

ETIV do Brasil, guided by its mission to Educate, Transform, Integrate and Value (ETIV) every member of the local community, was established in October 2015. Despite its relatively recent inception, the nonprofit has already empowered more than 450 children. Additionally, the organization has collaborated with more than 100 volunteers hailing from 23 different countries, fostering a diverse and global perspective. Furthermore, ETIV has forged more than 35 partnerships, both within the local community and internationally.

Recently, The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview Chloe Bonfield, who volunteered for ETIV do Brasil while on a missionary trip to Brazil. Bonfield described the organization as “the epitome of community spirit, resilience and strength.” Bonfield told The Borgen Project, “ETIV allows individuals to come together to support one another. Children can learn life skills that help the entire community overcome adversity”.

ETIV do Brasil: Gender Equality

The nonprofit plays a crucial role in promoting gender equality and female empowerment through two dedicated programs: the Girls Empowerment Club and the Girls Health Club. These initiatives operate in a total of 10 programs across Itacaré. In January 2024, a study published in BMC Public Health drew attention to gender roles in Brazil by comparing urban and rural areas. The research revealed that both girls from urban and rural regions exhibited higher rates of participation in household chores than boys.

The study suggests there is a correlation between children’s compliance with typical gender roles and behaviors. Bonfield told The Borgen Project that gender equality programs such as those with ETIV do Brasil “teach children their future is a world of possibilities.” Not only do these programs provide children with the skills and education needed to progress, but they also demonstrate to them their desires and goals are achievable,” Bonfield shared.

ETIV do Brasil: Environmental Education

Itacaré is a community whose livelihoods are largely reliant on fishing and subsistence agriculture. More than three-quarters of all tropical commercial fish depend on the success of mangrove forests. Therefore, an understanding of the environment and being able to maintain it remains imperative. As part of encouraging sustainability practices with ETIV do Brasil, Bonfield describes how they “often planted Mangroves with children.” Not only does this educate the children, but it also helps the entire local community to flourish.

Conclusion 

ETIV do Brasil educates children, builds relationships between community members and fosters respect and awareness for the local environment. The initiative’s educational programs provide children with opportunities for a better future as well as empower them to make positive changes in their lives and communities.

– Heidi Helen Horgan
Photo: Pexels

Poverty in the AmazonA groundbreaking alliance is emerging in the remote reaches of the Amazon rainforest, where the lack of governance has left an indelible mark of destruction. Brazilian ecologists are embarking on a mission to preserve the world’s largest tropical forest and reduce poverty in the Amazon’s communities. Managing a stretch of land along the Juruá River, this venture seeks to counter the forces that have continued to deforest the Amazon. Their ambition extends beyond their immediate efforts, aiming to create a replicable model for other regions in the vast Amazon.

The Environmental Crisis and the Role of the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest sprawls over an area twice the size of India. It hosts unparalleled biodiversity and holds vast carbon reserves, serving as a crucial buffer against the changing climate. Unfortunately, deforestation has reached a 15-year high in recent years. 

According to WWF.org, deforestation in the Amazon remained at the highest levels since 2009, with the extent of destruction in the eastern Amazon transforming it from a carbon sink to a carbon source.

Concerning Poverty

In the sprawling expanse of the Amazon rainforest, poverty intertwines with environmental degradation in a complex and troubling nexus. Approximately 9.7% of the region’s population grapples with extreme poverty in the Amazon. 

In a region plagued by some of Brazil’s highest poverty levels, inhabitants with scant alternatives often confront a grim dilemma: abandon depleted fields and encroach further into the forest, perpetuating a vicious cycle of environmental decline. As Judson Ferreira Valentim, a soil scientist at Embrapa, the government’s agricultural research agency, aptly observes in an AP News interview, “The biodiversity is rich, but so many people are impoverished.”

Addressing the pervasive poverty gripping the Amazon is not only a moral imperative but also an indispensable component of safeguarding its ecological treasures. Without concerted efforts to alleviate poverty and provide viable livelihood alternatives, the relentless march of deforestation imperils not only the Amazon’s delicate ecosystems but also the global climate and the myriad species that call it home.

A Troubling Reality of Deforestation

According to AP News, 10% of the Amazon has been decimated in less than four decades.

Brazilian ecologists aim to establish a model that can be replicated across the vast expanse of the rainforest. The genesis of this movement can be traced back to a four-month expedition along the Juruá River in 2016.

The researchers, diving into the heart of nearly 100 communities, initially encountered a seeming uniformity of rows of wooden homes on stilts along the water. However, the striking contrasts in living conditions laid bare the harsh reality. A crucial piece of information is that 29% of the Amazon, an area roughly three times the size of California, is either unprotected public land or public land with no recorded information, making these areas more susceptible to deforestation.

João Vitor Campos-Silva, a tropical socio-ecologist, expressed the glaring inequality: “Inside protected areas, many positive things are happening  but outside, they seemed to be 40 years behind.”

Designing a Conservation Model on a Basin Scale

Recognizing the disparities, the ecologists identified the Medio Juruá region near Caraua. Here, communities managed their resources sustainably within “extractive reserves,” public lands allowing residents to harvest fish and crops. However, many communities faced oppression from self-appointed landowners, restricting access to vital resources.

The solution took shape in the form of the non-profit Juruá Institute, which acquired a 13 km rainforest property along the Juruá River. This unique parcel includes about 20 lakes with significant potential for sustainable practices, including cultivating pirarucu, the world’s largest freshwater scale fish.

Bridging Science and Community

The institute’s ambition, as expressed by Campos-Silva, is to promote high-quality science grounded in collaboration with the region’s people. In proximity to the Institute’s land, 12 communities of former rubber tappers, known as “Ribeirinhos,” find their livelihoods tied to the pirarucu fishery. A shift from rubber trees to sustainable fishing practices has not only revived a declining species but also generated income without resorting to forest clearance.

Empowering Communities in Governance

To ensure the active involvement of riverine communities, the institute established a steering committee and initiated public meetings named “Community of Dreams.” These sessions allowed residents to prioritize improvements, conducted in three groups: women, youth and men to avoid potential biases.

Fernanda de Araujo Moraes, president of the river communities’ association, emphasized the initiative’s primary purpose: preventing river people from migrating to Amazon cities, where the unemployment rate has declined. In the community of Lago Serrado, both men and women identified 24-hour electricity as their top priority, showcasing the tangible impact this collaboration aims to achieve.

A New Paradigm

Residents like José Alves de Morais see this initiative as unprecedented, stating that José, already involved as a lake keeper for the institute, is eager for his family to participate in managing pirarucu fishing, awaiting federal approval.

On the scientific front, the Juruá Institute has erected a houseboat and a wooden house, accommodating up to 20 researchers, to study various aspects of the region. The initiative, spearheaded by Carlos Peres, an Amazon-born professor of tropical conservation ecology at the University of East Anglia, earned recognition when Peres and three other scientists won the Frontiers Planet Prize in April, bringing $1.1 million in support.

A Vision for the Future

The Amazon grapples with the ongoing challenges of environmental degradation. Recent revelations from a 2023 NPR report offer hope, as tree clearance has decreased by 34%.

Amidst the lush landscapes of the Amazon, the synergy between data-driven insights and unwavering resolve points toward a promising trajectory, where preservation and prosperity intertwine to forge a path toward sustainable coexistence with nature. However, the broader context of poverty in the region casts a shadow. Overall poverty, projected at 24.3% in 2022, remains on par with 2014 levels after peaking at 28.4% in 2021. While the 2023 poverty outlook appears promising, addressing striking inequalities necessitates faster job creation and more substantial investments in human capital.

Their mission along the Juruá River seeks to counter the forces perpetuating deforestation and aims to address the underlying poverty that fuels this cycle of environmental decline. By bridging science and community, empowering local governance and fostering innovative conservation models, this initiative represents a paradigm shift in our approach to safeguarding the region and reducing poverty in the Amazon.

– Quinn Higby
Photo: Pixabay

EV Hub in BrazilIn a strategic move that intertwines economic revitalization with environmental sustainability, the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) automaker BYD is set to invest a substantial 3 billion reais ($620 million) towards an advanced EV manufacturing hub in Brazil. This ambitious endeavor, situated in the northeastern state of Bahia, specifically in the town of Camaçari, holds the promise of transforming the nation into an EV hub, catalyzing the alleviation of poverty in Brazil.

BYD’s Vision and Strategic Location

BYD’s EV Hub investment choice takes on added importance within the context of Camaçari’s well-established industrial framework, notably highlighted by BYD’s acquisition and revitalization of a Ford plant that ceased operations in 2021. The proposed facility will house three state-of-the-art factories, each playing a pivotal role in the production cycle.

The first factory is dedicated to processing locally sourced lithium and iron phosphate, critical components essential for the batteries that power electric vehicles. Simultaneously, the remaining two facilities will lead in the production of hybrid and electric vehicles, encompassing cars, trucks and buses. The envisioned complex not only aligns with BYD’s global strategy but also positions Camaçari as a hub for cutting-edge EV technology, furthering Brazil’s role in the international electric mobility landscape.

A Dual Triumph Through the EV Hub 

The economic implications of BYD’s EV hub investment are underscored by recent data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Poverty in Brazil, which reached a record level of 36.7% in 2021, witnessed a notable decline to 31.6% in 2022. In absolute terms, this positive trend translates into a reduction from 78 million people considered poor in 2021 to 67.8 million in 2022.

This promising trend is further reinforced by an additional upward revision of Bolsa Familia’s benefits, suggesting that the poverty rate is anticipated to revert to a seemingly pre-pandemic trajectory, settling at 24.3% according to the World Bank’s projections for 2023. The BYD initiative perfectly aligns with Brazil’s growth, boosting its economy. The creation of a manufacturing hub not only brings job opportunities directly associated with the EV industry but also stimulates related sectors, fostering a ripple effect of economic growth that extends beyond the plant gates.

Lula’s Vision and Global Collaboration

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s vision of closer Sino-Brazilian ties finds concrete expression in BYD’s investment. Lula’s emphasis on transitioning from fossil fuels aligns with China’s commitment to sustainable practices. Beyond strengthening economic ties, this collaboration positions Brazil as a key player in the global shift towards clean energy. As BYD opens its doors in Camaçari, the transformation is not limited to the industrial sector. The EV hub promises to be a beacon of hope for Bahia residents, offering not just jobs but opportunities for skills development and community growth.

The convergence of Chinese innovation and Brazilian ambition is positioned to redefine the narrative, demonstrating that economic progress and environmental responsibility can coexist harmoniously. Furthermore, the anticipated creation of 5,000 domestic jobs underscores the tangible and immediate impact of BYD’s investment on the local workforce, contributing to the realization of Lula’s vision for a prosperous, sustainable and interconnected future.

Final Remark

BYD’s EV hub investment marks a transformative moment for Brazil, both economically and socially. As the EV hub takes shape, it promises a  prosperous future for the nation, simultaneously contributing to the impressive strides already made in reducing poverty. This collaboration between China and Brazil serves as a model for joint efforts addressing a sustainable future and the economic challenges associated with poverty in Brazil.

– Quinn Higby
Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in BrazilThe global report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, released by five specialized agencies of the United Nations (U.N.), revealed that between 2020 and 2022, 4.7% of Brazilian citizens, or 10.1 million people, experienced the most extreme form of food insecurity, known as chronic hunger. Additionally, the study indicated that 9.9% of Brazilians faced severe food insecurity during this period, and approximately 32.8% of the population fell into the categories of severe or moderate food insecurity. Taken along with data from 2014 through 2016, this indicates an ongoing deterioration of food security in the country. In the relentless battle against hunger in Brazil, numerous innovative technologies are emerging to address this issue. Leveraging advanced solutions, organizations and initiatives have made significant strides in tackling the root causes of hunger and poverty.

The Landscape

With its gigantic population and diverse socio-economic landscape, Brazil has been grappling with the challenges of hunger and poverty for many years. According to the World Bank, approximately 21.4% of the population in Brazil lives below the national poverty line. This alarming figure underscores the pressing need for comprehensive initiatives to address the multifaceted issues of hunger and poverty.

The Technologies

A notable initiative that has gained traction is the use of advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and target areas with the highest prevalence of hunger. By analyzing various socio-economic indicators, such as income levels, employment rates and access to education, organizations can strategically deploy resources where they are needed most. The implementation of such technologies has already shown promising results, with a 15% reduction in hunger rates reported in targeted regions.

Another key technology is the development of sustainable agriculture practices. Brazil’s vast agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy, but traditional farming methods often contribute to environmental degradation and intensify poverty. Through the integration of precision farming techniques and the use of eco-friendly fertilizers, initiatives have managed to increase crop yields while minimizing environmental impact. As a result, more than 200,000 farmers have experienced improved livelihoods, marking a significant step toward sustainable development.

In addition to these advancements, the implementation of blockchain technology has streamlined the distribution of aid and resources to fight hunger in Brazil. By creating transparent and tamper-proof ledgers, organizations can ensure that assistance reaches its intended recipients efficiently. This has led to a 30% reduction in logistical inefficiencies, allowing aid organizations to allocate resources more effectively.

Brazil has also seen the integration of solar-powered technologies to address energy poverty in rural areas. Access to electricity is a critical factor in improving living conditions and supporting economic activities. Solar-powered solutions, such as portable solar lamps and solar-powered water pumps, have brought light and clean water to more than 500,000 people in remote regions, contributing to a substantial improvement in their overall well-being.

Innovations in biotechnology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the nutritional value of staple crops. Recent advancements in biofortification, the process of enhancing the nutrient content of crops through breeding or genetic modification, have resulted in crops with higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals. This approach has had a direct impact on addressing malnutrition, with an estimated 25% decrease in vitamin deficiencies reported in targeted populations.

The Impact

To dig into the impact of these technologies, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of metrics and measurable outcomes. The success of these initiatives can be quantified by the tangible improvements experienced by the communities they serve. For instance, the data-driven approach using AI has directly contributed to a 20% increase in school attendance among children in targeted areas, breaking the cycle of poverty through access to education.

In sustainable agriculture, there was a 15% increase in income reported by farmers who adopted the new precision farming practices. This not only lifts individuals out of poverty but also creates a ripple effect within communities, fostering economic growth and resilience.

The impact of implementing blockchain is evident not only in efficiency gains but also in the increased trust and accountability it brings to aid distribution. By ensuring that aid reaches its intended recipients, organizations have witnessed a 25% rise in community engagement and participation in local development initiatives.

These transformative technologies are not only making significant strides in the fight against hunger in Brazil, but they are also providing a blueprint for scalable and sustainable solutions. The convergence of data analytics, AI, sustainable agriculture, blockchain, solar power and biotechnology showcases the power of innovation in driving positive change.

Hope for the Future

Reflecting on the measurable outcomes and the impact these technologies have had on communities across Brazil, it is evident that the path to a hunger-free nation is not an insurmountable challenge. By embracing these innovative solutions and continually refining approaches, there’s hope for creating a future where hunger and poverty are relegated to the annals of history.

The journey toward a hunger-free Brazil is ongoing, pushed by the concerted efforts of organizations and initiatives that leverage transformative technologies. The measurable outcomes of these efforts serve as a testament to the power of innovation in addressing complex societal challenges.

– Osvaldo Bugelli Neto
Photo: Flickr

CARE BrazilBrazil’s history is rife with historical events that define its identity. Such events include colonization, wars and issues of rapid urbanization. CARE Brazil aims to fight persistent poverty and inequality in Brazil.

Brazil’s History

The colonization of Brazil began as early as the 1500s. Before European contact, Brazil had around two million to six million indigenous inhabitants living there. Portugal’s efforts to spread its colonies to the Asian and African continents led Portugal to discover South America during its journey to a water route reaching the Indies and an archipelago in Indonesia. The indigenous inhabitants of Brazil faced harsh rule from the Portuguese, and they subjected them to European diseases, ultimately killing a majority of the native population. 

Brazil’s economy originates in mining and agriculture, with its primary products of gold and sugar. From the 16th to 18th century in Brazil, the sugar industry contributed to most of the country’s wealth, while landholders with small amounts of land produced wealth through coffee and cotton. In the 18th century, coffee and cotton would become the country’s major exports. 

As a product of the Napoleonic Wars, Brazil gained independence in 1822 after centuries of Portuguese rule. In an attempt to seek refuge from the war, the Portuguese king fled Napoleonic rule in Europe to arrive in Brazil. This marked the moment Brazil started on its journey to gain independence from Portuguese rule. King Pedro I was responsible for the subsequent independence of Brazil from European forces. 

Poverty in Brazil 

In recent years, Brazil has experienced extreme poverty, with more and more of the country’s poor experiencing food insecurity and inequality. In 2021 alone, almost 30% of Brazil’s population lived in poverty. Some factors contributing to Brazil’s poor living below the poverty line can be attributed to preexisting economic and social challenges due to the country’s systemic issues. Brazil has high levels of inequality, high public debt, low education rates, low total factor productivity and deforestation, all contributing to the country’s challenges and hurdles. Although these issues are significant and burden Brazil.The country is an important player in the global economy with its goods and policies. 

Due to COVID-19, Brazil experienced an exacerbation of existing issues. The country faced a deep economic recession, further amplifying Brazil’s unemployment and economic issues. The repercussions of the pandemic are still visible today, with Brazil’s unemployment rate reaching 8.4% in January 2023. In addition, the country faces many ongoing challenges, with inflation and deforestation ranking among the top. 

Therefore, while Brazil has seen many conflicts and challenges, organizations such as CARE are committed to providing the resources and strategies necessary to garner long-lasting, meaningful change. 

CARE International

CARE is an international organization striving to fight global poverty and inequality. CARE focuses on women and young girls, aiming their fight against poverty and global, rampant inequality.

CARE tackles issues of economic justice, gender equality, inequality, crisis response, nutrition and health. By focusing on these issues, the organization strives to promote gender equality and eliminate poverty. According to CARE’s guiding philosophy, “At its root, poverty is caused by unequal power relations that result in inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities between women and men, between power-holders and marginalized communities and between countries. Poverty cannot be overcome without addressing these underlying power imbalances.” 

To achieve CARE’s vision on a global scale, the organization spreads its impact through humanitarian and development aid initiatives in over 100 countries. CARE utilizes its advocacy skills and innovations with programs that hone in on eradicating global poverty, specifically by targeting gender equality, the guiding beacon of CARE International. 

CARE Brazil

CARE’s help reached Brazil from 2001 through 2016. By partnering with Brazil’s government and local Brazilian organizations, CARE developed an approach to address structural challenges while prompting the country to respond to the needs of the impoverished. The organization develops programs implemented across multiple states within Brazil, working within various sectors to implement vocational training and offering help to those living in extreme poverty in Brazil by promoting local communities to form sustainable businesses and access to microfinancing. 

According to CARE, due to the large amount of forests in Brazil, the millions of inhabitants who live below the poverty line are more prone to the adverse effects of deforestation. Therefore, it is significant that the organization collaborates with Brazil’s state governments to tackle the issue of reducing the country’s overall poverty rate. CARE has helped Brazilian communities develop sustainable and responsible forest management and reforestation systems. The organization has also aided in policy reform by promoting state governments to form a metric identifying the effects and qualities of programs dedicated to decreasing deforestation in Brazil.

Although CARE’s reach extended to Brazil in 2001, in 2021 alone, the organization helped around 2,200 participants, 98% female. The magnitude of CARE Brazil is evident, underscoring their genuine efforts to bring about gender equality in the country. 

In 1953, Latin American countries, including Brazil, participated in war recovery efforts following World War II by sending CARE Packages to Europe. CARE packages, formed by the CARE International organization, help those living in poverty through emergencies and disasters. Since the 1940s, CARE has developed strategies to provide programs and solutions to needy people. The first CARE Package was delivered at the end of World War II and included meals and kits to be sent to people living in hunger in the aftermath of the war. Around 100 million Care Packages were sent to families across the globe. Today, CARE Packages include financial assistance and messages of hope to those working in health care, specifically addressing COVID-19. 

Today, CARE International works to develop solutions to the issue of poverty in Brazil by working closely with national partners to bring their vision to fruition. 

– Bianca Roh
Photo: Flickr

SDG 1 in BrazilIn the Federative Republic of Brazil, updates on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, “No Poverty,” reveal contrasting trends in local poverty headcount compared to other nations’ general developments. While Brazil faces challenges in tackling poverty, its experience shows significant progress toward achieving SDGs, making it a valuable case study to understand the complex nature of the issue. Here are some interesting facts about Brazil’s progress on SDG 1.

World leaders adopted the Universal SDGs in 2015, with a primary focus on alleviating poverty for all by 2023. SDG 1 aims to eradicate extreme poverty, while other SDGs aim to promote sustainable economic, social and environmental growth.

The Peculiar Case of Brazil

Since 1998, global extreme poverty has generally declined, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted progress, leading to a global poverty increase from 8.3% to 9.2% in 2020. However, Brazil’s situation diverged from this trend. The UN’s annual report on SDG progress revealed that Brazil experienced a rise in poverty levels since the adoption of SDGs in 2015. The estimated percentage of the Brazilian population living below the poverty threshold, which is less than USD 2.15 a day, reached 6.28% in 2018. However, following years of an increase in extreme poverty from the 2014 figure of 4.02%, during the pandemic, Brazil recorded a significant decline in poverty. The proportion of Brazilians living below the poverty threshold dropped from 6.18% in 2019 to only 2.41% in 2020 and indicators for SDG 1 in Brazil continued to show a slight but continued decrease up to 2023.

Explaining the Numbers

The year 2014 marked the beginning of Brazil’s longest and most severe recession. The indicator for SDG 1 in Brazil, measuring the poverty headcount ratio at $2.15/day, reached its all-time low of the decade at 4.02. Political turmoil resulting from domestic macroeconomic mismanagement and corruption scandals exacerbated the crisis. In an effort to reduce the state budget deficit, the government implemented cuts in public expenditure on education and health care, which, in turn, led to a contracting GDP and real incomes, and a significant rise in unemployment and inflation rates. Although exact figures are uncertain, estimates suggest that extreme poverty increased from 5.2 million to 11.9 million between 2014 and 2017.

However, Brazil’s recovery in the subsequent years involved significant multifaceted reforms, including enhanced fiscal discipline, tax reform, improved labor rights and renewed spending on social assistance programs. A notable social initiative during this time was Bolsa Família, the world’s largest program providing cash payments to low-income individuals and families. Bolsa Família aims to reduce poverty, hunger and inequality, serving both as a layer of social security for the most vulnerable as well as a tool of wealth redistribution. The program annually benefits more than 46 million people directly, monitoring the health condition of nearly 10 million and the education of 15 million individuals. Estimates suggest that extreme poverty rates would have been one-third higher without Bolsa Família and it is credited with reducing the Gini coefficient by 15%.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil faced the second-highest death toll, as concluded by the IMF. However, the country responded with a swift vaccination campaign and resilience in the face of accompanying economic shocks. Alongside a more robust social and macroeconomic framework established after 2016, Brazil boasts one of the strongest health care systems in Latin America, allowing it to maintain an improving figure on SDG 1 indicators despite the existing challenges. Additionally, the government’s pandemic policies focused on improving conditions for vulnerable segments through the expansion of Bolsa Família and the introduction of emergency aid for self-employed and unemployed workers.

What Brazil’s Experience Says About Poverty

Since 2018, Brazil has been incorporating SDGs into its sectoral action plans, including initiatives targeting education and health care, as well as efforts to enhance economic management. In 2023, the concerned U.N. authorities awarded Brazil an overall score of 73 out of 100 on the SDG index.

Brazil’s experience underscores the complex nature of poverty, shaped by a blend of economic, social and political factors. Consequently, the adoption of SDGs to address different aspects of a nation’s development and their promotion as a comprehensive set of measures appears to be vital in confronting the interrelated factors contributing to the endurance of poverty.

– Nadia Asaad
Photo: Flickr