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UN Praises Brazil and Mexico for Social Programs to Deal with Crisis

Bolsa Família family The United Nations development chief today stressed the need for good social policies to help Latin America deal with the impact of the global economic crisis, which threatens to undo the progress achieved in the region in fighting poverty and other socioeconomic ills. 

“The region is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the effects of the global economic crisis – combined with the food crisis – threaten to jeopardize the gains,” Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development program (UNDP), said, referring to the set of globally agreed targets to halve poverty, hunger, illiteracy and other problems, all by 2015.   

“For this reason, social policies play a key role to promote human development, and the region shows several good examples, particularly through conditional cash transfer programs,” she told the Third Forum for Social Strategic Thinking in Latin America, a two-day meeting which began at UN Headquarters in New York today.   

As forecasted by a UN report released last November, the global economic crisis has increased the number of the poor in Latin America by 9 million in 2010 and has added another 2.5 million individuals to the ranks of the unemployed in the region.  

Governments in the region have reacted quickly, UNDP noted in a news release, with many having strengthened job security plans and social programs as a means to mitigate the negative effects of the crisis.   

Conditional cash transfer programs have played a substantial role in the design of such social policies, the agency pointed out, citing Oportunidades (Opportunities) in Mexico, Bolsa Família (Family Grant) in Brazil and Familias en Acción (Families in Action) in Colombia, which along with other programs, are reaching over 22 million households in 17 countries in the region.      The Forum, convened to discuss social policy innovations to respond to the economic crisis, was opened by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer in the field of microcredit, and includes the participation of over 35 ministers and officials in charge of social affairs from 17 Latin America nations.   

“The financial crisis can be seen as an opportunity,” said Mr. Yunus. “This is the moment to redesign social programs, stimulating social businesses and self-employment for the poor, particularly women.    

“Human beings have unlimited capacity. All we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them. If you ask me how to fight poverty, I’d sum it up like this: credit,” he stated.

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  • Show Comments (3)

  • Observer

    Sustainable solutions not charity is what the country needs
    The poor in Brazil need sustainable solutions not charity fromt he government, or as some would see it election bribes. The solution must start with a reformed education system. But this alone will not be enough. The missing thing is the will to find a solution. Instead of investing on one the government keeps investing in the useless public sector, giving more jobs to the middle class and breeding more corruption

  • Lloyd Cata

    Applauding Handouts Without The Framework Of A Hand Up
    It is fine to commend these governments for their efforts to support family incomes during a time of global crisis. Yet these ‘Bolsa’ do not address the real issues of income distribution, real property ownership, and self-sufficiency. Otherwise, they are just applauding the platforms and programs that have failed to provide income security and stability throughout the world.
    What has happened in Haitian history, now that it has been exposed, is the reliance of a whole nation on this band-aid of ‘welfare state’ that continues to exploit the people and indiscriminately confiscate their property. Property rights and ‘land reform’ are not issues of the right or left. We see under both systems the same disregard of peoples rights to ownership of real property. Under both systems we see the vast disparity in national and natural resources between rich and poor.

    Where there has been land reform, with the assistance of micro-lending, we see real economic progress where there was once despair. These are the programs we should be looking to applaud and expand, instead of handouts.

  • Capnamerca

    Going the wrong way
    [quote]referring to the set of globally agreed targets to halve poverty, hunger, illiteracy and other problems, all by 2015.[/quote]

    How can Brazil attain such goals unless they stop the removal of indigenous people from their lands in the name of economic progress? What’s happening reminds me much of what was done to the indigenous peoples of the U.S., and I haven’t heard of anyone in recent history, including Brazilians, who agree with this policy.

    When these people are displaced from their land, they automatically fall into poverty, and this appears to me to be happening at an alarming rate in Brazil.

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