Monday, June 13, 2011

Brazil Aims High In Its Fight Against Poverty

With the announcement of the new ambitious poverty-eradication plan by President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has declared war against the deadliest enemy, poverty. President Rousseff has launched an exciting plan, Brazil Without Misery, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014. It is estimated that, just over 16 million Brazilians – almost a tenth of the population – live in dire poverty, with less than $45 a month. While taking office, Rousseff promised that it would be her top priority to end poverty.

The new plan will work in three stages. First, the government will broaden the scope of the bolsa familia plan (conditional cash transfer) initiated by former President, Lula da Silva, which benefits 12 million poor or very poor families. The government expects that by the end of 2013 bolsa payments will reach 800,000 more families, who qualify for the welfare payments but do not receive it due to geographical isolation, poor information or administrative shortcomings. Second, the government plans to improve access to public services, especially education, health service, clean water, electricity and sewerage for those most in need. Almost half of very poor rural families have neither running water nor a well, and more than half of them have neither a sewer connection nor a septic tank. Third, the new plan will give the poor the opportunity of “Productive Inclusiveness” so that they can lift themselves permanently out of poverty, through job creation, vocational training and micro-credit programs.

No one will deny that Brazil’s new poverty reduction plan is highly ambitious. But if these policies are implemented effectively, poverty will definitely face a serious blow. Let’s see if Brazil can provide the first punch and become the first developing country to achieve the first of the UN millennium development goals.

-Nisha Noor