This article is an attempt to scrutinize the current ‘Brazil Without Misery (Brasil Sem Miséria)’policy of President Dilma’s administration. In doing so, I’ll be looking into the various initiatives under the policy like Busca Ativa; Brasil Carinhoso; Pronatec; Unidades Básicas de Saúde; and Bolsa Verde. Synchronously; I’ll deliberate into the benefits and loopholes of this policy. I’ll conclude by making some recommendations about this policy and provide a final response to my article title.
“We want to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014 and make Brazil the first developing country to achieve the first of the UN millennium development goals”
- Tereza Campello (MSD) [Langellier Jean-Pierre, 2011]
The policy, ‘Brazil Without Misery’ is a poverty alleviation program aimed at eradicating poverty by 2014. It was launched in June 2011 by Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil. It is an extension of the Bolsa Familia policy initiated by Rousseff’s predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. In addition to Bolsa Familia, Brazil Without Misery has introduced a number of programs such as Bolsa Verde, Brasil Carinhoso, Busca Ativa etc. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be critically looking into the various initiatives/programs under Brasil Sem Miséria and its attempts at eradicating poverty.
“I did not have a job card or an electoral card, and my daughter’s birth certificate was wet. I did not even know I had the right to receive the Bolsa Família”
- Beatriz [MSD, 2012, p.10]
As a result of Busca Ativa, Beatriz now receives the Bolsa Família and David is enrolled in a Pronatec course.
Source: MSD, 2012, p.10
One such initiative under Brasil Sem Miséria is the Busca Ativa. The Busca Ativa or The Active Search is the strategy adopted by Brasil Sem Miséria to find and register all extremely poor families. This has proven to be a success as it also acts an impetus for the Bolsa Familia program. The Busca Ativa has registered 687 thousand families [MSD, 2012, p.6] who were previously not included in such schemes. This was done through the Cadastro Único (Single Register). The Cadastro Único provides access to such schemes and hence a number of families are reaping the benefits of such schemes. Out of the 687 thousand families located, 39% are in municipalities with over 100 thousand inhabitants, 75% are in urban centers, 58% are in the North and Northeast regions, and 14% belong to specific populations [MSD, 2012, p.9] like Indians, quilombolas (descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves), family farmers, pickers of recyclable materials, the homeless, etc.
“The positive impact is even greater on those in early childhood: 2.7 million extremely poor children 0 to 6 years of age will be lifted out of extreme poverty”
- Tereza Campello (MSD) [SECOM, 2012]
The Brasil Carinhoso (Brazil that Cares) aims at increasing the investment in early childhood (0 to 6 years) as a means to reducing poverty. It has extended Brazil’s Family Grant benefit to extremely poor families with children 6 years of age and under, thus guaranteeing a monthly income of at least R$ 70 a month per person. The initiative has reduced the number of families living in extreme poverty in Brazil by 40 per cent [SECOM, 2012]. This program shows that Brazil is concerned about her future generation. Furthermore, the work done by Brasil Carinhoso will help Brazil in achieving the fourth millennium development goal of reducing child mortality rates.
“We face the prospect of a rigorous process of economic development and we need skilled labor to maintain this growth in a sustainable manner”
- Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil [Mari Angelica, 2012]
Pronatec (National Program of Access to Technical Learning and Employment) was developed by the City of Rio Branco through a partnership by the Secretaria Municipal de Cidadania e Assistência Social (Semcas) with Senai. Pronatec Brasil Sem Miséria offers initial and continued formation courses, which take from 160 to 240 hours/class. It is the municipality’s responsibility, through the Social Assistance Unified System (Sistema Único de Assistência Social, Suas), to identify through the Single Register (Cadastro Único) the potential candidates for the qualification courses. Today, Pronatec Brasil Sem Miséria is oriented to those registered in the Cadastro Único who live in municipalities with over 50 thousand inhabitants in the North, Northeast, and Center-West regions, and with over 80 thousand in the Southeast and South regions [MSD, 2012, p. 27]. Such skills will increase the employability of individuals; thus, culminating to a resource rich population.
Pronatec will help Brazil to provide technical skills to its population. Formerly, such technical education training schools were mainly seen in the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro etc. However after the implementation of Pronatec, technical education and training has reached even the poorest, particularly people in the Northeastern states. Besides job capacity generation, this program has also led to social equality among states. However a major problem facing this program is the inequality of education in terms of quality and subsequently opportunity. Thus, when it comes to searching for a job, many of the students from Pronatec schools are unable to compete with their counterparts. However on the upside, this program aims to create 200 new schools and generate 8 million opportunities for professional training by 2014.
Dona Maria do Amparo and her grandchildren have health at home and in the UBS
Source: MSD, 2012, p.23
Unidades Básicas de Saúde (Basic Health Units) or UBS are established in territories with the highest social vulnerability. The idea is to fight the vicious circle where poverty leads to disease; disease reduces working capacity, which makes the earning of livelihood more difficult and this in turn leads to more poverty, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of disease. [MSD, 2012, p.23]. To deal with this Brasil Sem Miséria has collaborated with the Family Strategy (Saúde da Família). Hence, teams consisting of doctors, nurses, dentists, and community agents take care of the patients in their respective households or UBS.
“The Green Grant is above all a recognition by the federal government that it is essential to offer an incentive that combines guaranteed income with preservation of the environment”
- Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil [Ortiz Fabiola, 2011]
The Bolsa Verde (Green Grant) was launched on September 28th 2011 by President Dilma Rousseff . The policy seeks to overcome extreme poverty in rural areas through sustainable family farming production. An amount of R$ 300 is paid in every quarter to families. Grants are transferred through the Bolsa Familia card [Portal Brasil, 2011]. Bolsa Verde aims at instilling sustainable practices in people living in the forest area. This is done by giving poor families financial aid under the condition of preserving their surrounding environment. In doing so, the policy envisions that Amazon will be protected by the families dwelling their.
Critics of Bolsa Verde argue that in order to receive this subsidy, families have to live within conservation areas or extractive reserves (sustainable use protected areas). Furthermore R$ 100 a month is very little remuneration for families to conserve the rainforest. Many families who have registered under this scheme are still awaiting their status. This is because more than 8,000 families are already included in the list of applicants. This has resulted in a lack of faith in this policy and thus families are going into commercial activities such as cattle ranching
Overall, the federal, state and the municipal levels of government have to coordinate so as to ensure the smooth functioning of the plan. For example, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the poorest population is receiving the Bolsa Família (federal), the Renda Melhor (state), and the Família Carioca (municipal). In addition, Brasil Sem Miséria requires greater social participation. The elimination of extreme poverty can only happen when citizens become conscious of their environment. Hence, being primarily a people driven plan, the success of it will only come from the people. Thus, it becomes imperative for Brazilians to continue supporting such initiatives which will result to the achievement of the ‘greater’ good.
“Brazil turns a decisive page in our past history of social exclusion. On this page, it is written that over 2.5 million Brazilian men and women are leaving extreme poverty.”
- Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil [SECOM, 2013]
In conclusion, I do believe that Brazil is Without Misery and the program has proven to be a blessing for the Brazilians. The Brazilian Government remains one of the few governments committed towards the achievement of the first millennium development goal. In doing so, it has also address other millennium development goals as well. Such an initiative should indeed be encourage in other countries. As seen by the Brazilian experience, a similar experiment or policy will help countries to deal with the various loopholes in the achievement of their millennium development goals. Furthermore, Brazil can play an active role in the international sphere. IBSA Dialogue Forum, BRICS can be an effective starting point to cooperate on issues like poverty and development. Nonetheless poverty still exists in Brazil. However in the minds of the Brazilians it has disappeared thanks to the successful implementation of such policies. This makes one to ponder whether ‘Deus é brasileiro (God is Brazilian)’.
By: Kester Pereira
Langellier Jean-Pierre (2011): ‘Brazil declares war on ‘chronic poverty’, The Guardian, June 7th
Mari Angelica (2012): ‘R$1bn technical education program launches’, < http://itdecs.com/2011/04/r-1bn-technical-education-program-launches/ > (last accessed March 21st 2013)
Ministry of Social Development (2012): ‘Brazil Without Extreme Poverty Plan’, Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger, Government of Brazil
Ortiz Fabiola (2011): ‘BRAZIL: ‘Green Grant’ May Do Little to Protect Amazon’, Inter Press Service, Oct 11th < http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/10/brazil-green-grant-may-do-little-to-protect-amazon/ > (last accessed March 18th)
Portal Brasil (2011): ‘Brazil launches National Poverty Alleviation Plan’, < http://www.brasil.gov.br/para/press/press-releases/brazil-launches-national-poverty-alleviation-plan/newsitem_view?set_language=en > (last accessed March 18th)
SECOM (2012): ‘Brazil Without Extreme Poverty celebrates its one-year anniversary with 687,000 new families enrolled in Family Grant Program’, The Secretariat for Social Communication, Government of Brazil
SECOM (2013): ‘Brazil lifts 22 million people out of extreme poverty since 2011’, The Secretariat for Social Communication, Government of Brazil