The gap between Brazil’s rich and poor contributes to its stance in the developing world. Although Brazil is considered to be a rich nation, there are still millions of people living in extreme poverty.

The uneven distribution of wealth enables Brazil to be a wealthy country that has millions living in poverty. The wealthiest one percent of Brazil’s population controls approximately 50 percent of the nation’s income, while a substantial amount of the country’s population lives off of once percent of the country’s wealth.

Salvador de Bahia, the capital of Brazil, serves as an example of how this distribution of wealth creates poverty. The capital of Brazil is considered to be one of the most impoverished areas of the country, with approximately 2.4 million people living on less than $1 a day.

Brazil is one of the largest countries in world with an estimated population of 200 million people, according to the World Bank. Salvador de Bahia has a population of approximately 2.6 million people who survive on incomes supported by the tourism industry, agriculture and the oil refinery port in the capital.

With a relatively new chemical company opening in Salvador de Bahia, the capital has seen considerable growth in its economy, partly due to new employment opportunities and an increase in generated revenue. Although Salvador de Bahia has seen economic growth, it is still considered one of the poorest states with poverty rates as high as 50 percent in some towns.

There are several causes behind the extreme poverty in Brazil, and more specifically, Salvador de Bahia. Aside from economic situations that feed the great divide between the rich and poor, the increasing number of children falling into poverty serves as another factor. Although the number of adults lifting themselves out of poverty has increased over the past few years, there has also been an increase in the number of young people and children that have fallen into poverty. The cyclical nature of poverty results in stagnant poverty rates.

Malnutrition has also led to underdeveloped children and young people. In Brazil there are an estimated 200,000 to eight million children living on the streets. Unable to provide for their children, some poor families abandon their children, leaving them on the streets to fend for themselves. Additionally, AIDS, the death of family members, violence, drugs and/or alcohol result in high child poverty rates.

Often, street children cannot come back from this life and have a low life expectancy rate. Reforms that tackle child poverty in Brazil can help alleviate rates in the country and enable the state of Salvador de Bahia to move toward a more prosperous economic future. Reforms can help build orphanages, create education centered programs and build half-way houses as a solution to poverty rates.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: Children of Bahia, SOS Children’s Villages, The World Bank
Photo: Global Health Equity Scholars Fellowship