Tag Archives: Dilma Rousseff

Brazil Without Misery?

23 Mar

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

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report (2011, HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme,


Brazil’s Green Economy: A strategy for Sustainable Development

19 Feb

There is a growing acknowledgement that the current world economy is unsustainable; hence a need for an economy that promotes a rather sustainable environment. This in turn has led to rise in the promotion of a ‘Green Economy’. This article is an endeavour to examine the role of Brazil in the promotion of a green economy. To do so, I’ll begin by undertaking a brief study on Curitiba and highlight the various factors that led to the sustainability of the city. Then, I’ll bring out the Brazilian approach to the field of biofuels in the achievement of sustainable development. I’ll conclude by using the fundamentals of this model and try to extrapolate whether the model as implemented by Brazil can be beneficial to rest of the world.

For the purposes of the Green Economy Initiative, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) developed a working definition of a ‘Green Economy’ as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. [UNEP, 2008].

“I consider that Brazil has a sacred mission to show the world that it is possible for a country to grow rapidly without destroying the environment. We are and will continue to be the world champions in clean energy, a country that will always know how to grow in a healthy and balanced fashion.”

– Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil [UNEP, 2013]


Brazil is home to the largest rainforest in the world and possesses an extensive coastal line. It is extremely rich in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and possesses huge water reserves; hence is biodiversity hotspot. Due to its natural resources and temperate climate, combined with a relatively small population, Brazil’s biological capacity has the potential to surpass its ecological footprint [Green Economy Coalition, 2012], thus leading to a sustainable environment. Seeing the potentials of this resource rich nation, her leaders have embraced the notion of generating growth based on the principles of a ‘Green Economy’ and thereby channelizing a sustainable environment for its citizens.

Brazil has the fourth largest urban population after China, India, and the US, with an annual urban growth rate of 1.8 per cent between 2005 and 2010 [UNEP, 2009]. Curitiba, capital of Parana state and the eight largest city in Brazil [Wikipedia, 2010] has successfully addressed this challenge. This has been done through an integrated urban planning initiated through the Master Plan. This plan established the famous Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System for which Curitiba is known for.



The popularity of the BRT System has resulted to a modal shift from automobile travel to bus travel [Goodman et al, 2005, p.76]. However, this doesn’t mean that the city automatically favors public transport over private as it only goes to show how planned the city is. The above image is of the Trinary Road System. This system not only allows quick access to the city centers for the car drivers but also has dedicated BRT lanes, thus assuring faster commutation no matter what mode of transportation.

Other policies have also contributed to the success of the transit system. Land within two blocks of the transit arteries is zoned for high density, since it generates more transit ridership per square foot. Beyond the two blocks, zoned residential densities taper in proportion to distance from transit-ways [Goodman et al, 2005, p.76]. Even though, the number of private car users [Lindau et al, 2010, p.2] is growing, it is estimated that three-quarters of Curitibans still rely on public transport [Grist Staff, 2007]. Thus, it is noteworthy to state that such a planned transportation network in a city has dual benefits. Firstly, it provides people an efficient public transport system and secondly, it keeps the environment in check as it encourages more and more people to use public transport. Given the present scenario where nations face the issue of climate change, such a model, should indeed be encourage in any country.



 Furthermore a number of others programs have proved to be a living success in the city. The Pedestrian-Friendly Streets are areas in the city which are closed to vehicle traffic and thus pedestrian friendly. The Garbage That Is Not Garbage Program encourages people to separate discards into recyclable and non-recyclable waste. One to three times a week, trucks collect paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, and glass that has been sorted by households. This recycling saves the equivalent of 1,200 trees a day, and local parks contain displays on the numbers of trees saved. The money rose from selling recyclables supports social programs, and the city employs the homeless and people in alcohol rehabilitation programs in the garbage separation plant. The Green Exchange Program is seen undertaken in slum areas inaccessible to waste collection vehicles. To encourage the poor and slum dwellers to clean up the areas and improve public health, the city started to offer bus tickets and vegetables to people who brought garbage to neighborhood centers. In addition, children were allowed to exchange recyclables for school supplies, toys etc [Suzuki et al, 2010, p.303]. All these initiatives thus enable the city to avoid future environmental costs and at the same time have led to an increased in the quality of life of its citizens and a sustainable future. No wonder, Curitiba is famously referred to as the ‘Ecological Capital of Brazil’.

The adverse impact of global warming has resulted in harmful consequences for the future of the planet. Faced with a scenario of conflict and uncertainty, changes in the management of energy issues are important. Renewable energies, especially biofuels, have emerged as alternatives for achieving sustainable development [Faustino Cristian Verissimo, 2012, p.74]. While the average of OECD countries’ consumption of renewable resources is only seven per cent, the Brazilian index is 46 per cent, mainly composed of hydroelectricity and biofuels. It is estimated that, over the past thirty years, the use of biofuels has prevented 644 million tones of carbon from being released into the atmosphere [Faustino Cristian Verissimo, 2012, p.75]. The use of ethanol has helped the plight of the peasants. The average income earned by rural workers in the sugarcane industry is 86 per cent higher than their counterparts in other areas of agriculture [Faustino Cristian Verissimo, 2012, p.85]. Thus, biofuels has come to be the best alternative for the reduction of greenhouse gases and could even contribute to the establishment of supply chains in many sectors of the economy, such as agriculture and industry in accordance with sustainable development.



Another area where the Brazilian model of a Green Economy has been a success is through the ‘Green Jobs’ initiative. The Brazilian Government has embraced it as a core element in its national development policy. Since 2009 the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been providing permanent technical support to the conceptual development and practical implementation of green jobs at federal and state levels in Brazil [ILO, 2010]. Such jobs are seen in industries such as seedling production management, forest management, recycling, biofuel production activities and the like [People’s Daily Online, 2009]. The work of ILO is commendable especially in the states of Bahia and Mato Grasso through the Decent Work Agenda. Such jobs are also seen in the Amazon region. By 2008, Brazil had more that 2.6 million green jobs and ILO believes that the transition to an economy with lower greenhouse gas emissions can further increase the number of such jobs [People’s Daily Online, 2009].

What the fence sitters and the skeptics fail to understand is that climate change fundamentally changes the 21 century balance sheet … Investing now in green solutions is cheaper – and ultimately more profitable – than spending more, later, in a catch-up race for global competitiveness.”

– Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General [UN,2009]



Green economy thus offers an immense possibility for productive investment and sustainable growth and therefore should be the central focus of any government policy. It will help in the eradication of poverty as being labor intensive it creates jobs and provides communities with sustainable livelihoods. Though initially it may result in a slowdown in economic growth in the long run it ensures that economic growth will be accelerated as climate change catastrophes, energy shocks, water scarcity and loss of ecosystem services are reduced. Finally due to its inclusiveness, a greener economy will not only ensure that not only our needs but also of our children and their children’s children will be met

By: Kester Pereira




People’s Daily Online (2009): ‘Brazil over 2.6 mln green jobs in 2008: ILO report’, < http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90852/6838181.html > (last viewed on 16th February 2013)

Faustino Cristian Verissimo (2012): ‘Energy and the Environment: The Challenges of Biofuels’, World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues, vol.16 no.1

Goodman Joseph, Laube Melissa, Schwenk Judith (2005): ‘Curitiba’s Bus System is Model for Rapid Transit’, Race, Poverty, and the Environment , vol 12, no.1

Green Economy Coalition (2012): ‘Brazil national dialogue’, < http://www.greeneconomycoalition.org/maps/brazil-national-dialogue > (last viewed on 12th February 2013)

Grist Staff (2007): ‘15 Green Cities’ < http://grist.org/article/cities3/ > (last viewed on 13th February 2013)

ILO (2010): ‘Green Jobs Country Brief- Brazil’, < http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—integration/documents/publication/wcms_149662.pdf > (last viewed on 11th February 2013)

Lindau Luis Antonio, Hildago Dario, Facchini Daniela (2010): ‘Curitiba, the cradle of Bus Rapid Transit’, CTS Brasil

Suzuki Hiroaki, Dastur Arish, Moffatt Sebastian, Yabuki Nanae, Maruyama Hinako (2010): Eco2 Cities:  Ecological Cities as Economic Cities, The World Bank, Washington, DC

UN (2009): ‘Ban Ki-moon’s speeches- Opening Remarks to the World Business Summit on Climate Change’, < http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=500#.URlQYR3WiE4 > (last viewed on 12th February 2013)

UNEP (2008): ‘What is the Green Economy?’ < http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/AboutGEI/WhatisGEI/tabid/29784/Default.aspx> (last viewed on 11th February 2013)

UNEP (2009): ‘Sustainable urban planning in Brazil’, < http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/SuccessStories/SustainaibleUrbanPlanninginBrazil/tabid/29867/Default.aspx > (last viewed on 11th February 2013)

UNEP (2013): ‘Brazil’s Green Economy’, <http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Partnerships/BrazilsGreenEconomy/tabid/79642/Default.aspx> (last viewed on 11th February 2013)

Wikipedia (2010): ‘List of largest cities in Brazil’, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_cities_in_Brazil> (last viewed on 13th February 20134)