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

The Effect of a Pandemic on Poverty

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

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

How Portugal is Managing the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

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

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

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

Tackling Poverty in Portugal Amid COVID-19

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

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

– Cristina Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

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

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

10 Facts About Sustainability in Portugal

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

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

Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Portugal

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

Poverty in Portugal: Top 10 Facts

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

What is the Future of Portugal?

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

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

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

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