Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):
The "social protection floor" concept is consistent with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially those associated with combating poverty and improving childhood social indicators. The direct correlation between Brazil’s social protection programs and achievement of the various MDGs has been widely documented. The Bolsa Família program has been largely credited with improving Brazil’s MDG indicators. The Bolsa Família currently provides monthly assistance of up to R$140 (US$80) to 12.4 million families. In this way, the Bolsa Família program has contributed to attaining the targets associated with eradicating extreme hunger and poverty (MDG 1), increasing the number of children enrolled in primary education (MDG 2), reducing child mortality (MDG 4), and improving maternal health (MDG 5), by delivering millions from poverty through social assistance payments which promote school attendance and health care for children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women. Program social assistance provided to families residing in low-income communities has helped to buoy local economies and to create consumer markets where none previously existed.
Fighting Hunger and Poverty:
With respect to Brazilian government efforts to eradicate hunger, the most significant is its “Fome Zero [Zero Hunger]” program, owing to its strategy of guaranteeing the human right of access to adequate food for those who lack it. The program is based on four key components: food access; strengthening family farm agriculture; income generation and articulation, and mobilization and social control.
One of the primary initiatives of Fome Zero is a family-centered social welfare program known as Bolsa Família, which provides financial assistance to 12.5 million families in all municipalities of the country. The Bolsa Família program provides food security to families in need, and contributes significantly to reducing extreme poverty and social inequality.
Established in October 2003, the Bolsa Família program provides assistance to Brazilian families earning less than R$140 (approx. US$80) per month,1 with benefits ranging from R$22 (approx. US$12.50) to R$200 (approx. US$114), based on a family’s monthly income, the number of children and adolescents through age 15 (up to three per family), and young people between the ages of 16 and 17 (up to two per family). The program’s benefits are provided directly to mothers by means of an electronic benefit card. The disbursement of Bolsa Família benefits is contingent on children attending school and family health care needs.
More than half of the 50,000 Bolsa Família beneficiaries enrolled in the “Next Step” (Próximo Passo) program...continue