In Brazil, One Dollar A Month To Lift Families Out Of Poverty

Pennies may not change anyone's life, but at least it helps President Dilma fulfill a campaign promise.

The Piaui in northeastern Brazil in one of the country's poorest states
The Piaui in northeastern Brazil in one of the country's poorest states
Daniel Carvalho

DEMERVAL LOBAO - Luiza Sousa, a 51-year-old unemployed woman from northeastern Brazil, knows exactly what a dollar is worth. “With two reais ($1), you can’t even buy half a kilogram of chicken," said the resident of Demerval Lobão, in Piauí, one of Brazil's poorest states. "I bought a coconut with two reais today.”

But according to the Brazilian government, Sousa and her four sons were no longer living in extreme poverty by the end of 2012, when they started to receive two reais per month from the “Brasil Carinhoso” welfare program (“Caring Brazil”).

Under this program, families that are already receiving financial aid from another social welfare program, “Bolsa Familia” (“Family Allowance”), are eligible for an extra two-reais supplement. The government considers “extreme poverty” as a monthly income of up to 70 reais ($35) per person within a family.

Luiza receives 140 reais ($70) every month thanks to the Bolsa Familia program. At the end of 2012, an extra two reais were added to her allowance. Her other incomes come from donations and her part-time job as a washerwoman, and her oldest son’s job as a housekeeper.

With the two extra reais, Luiza and her sons have joined the ranks of 16,4 million of people who have officially left extreme poverty in the past seven months. Luiza’s neighbors, Joelina Maria de Sousa, 31, and her daughter, Jucélia, seven, were also eligible for the two reais allowance.

When is a person no longer poor?

According to data obtained by Folha, from last year, Luiza, Joelina and another 13,100 Brazilian families got the extra two reais, helping president Dilma Roussef to reach her election promise of eradicating extreme poverty in Brazil before 2014. This is idea behind Brasil Carinhoso, launched in the middle of last year.

The amount paid per family by the Bolsa Familia welfare program ranges from two to 1,140 reais ($1 to $570). The average paid amount is 86 reais ($43).

On average in Brazil, each family receives about 245 reais per month ($122) from social welfare programs.

Improving the quality of life in Piauí, one dollar at a time- Photo: deltafrut

According to the Ministry of Development, there are still 600,000 families in extreme poverty in Brazil. In 2003, before the Bolsa Familia program was launched, there were 8,5 million families in this situation.

Economists interviewed by Folha said it was necessary to take into account other aspects – not only family income – before it was possible to talk about eradicating poverty.

"A person is no longer poor when the person has housing, clothing, education, health and employment and is able to finance themselves,” says Socorro Lira, coordinator of the Development and Environment PhD at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI).

Jaíra Alcobaça, also from UFPI, says initiatives that bring any kind of improvement to the quality of life are important, but need to be seen as emergency actions. He says that welfare assistance should take into account regional differences.

Folha visited Luiza in her brick house. It was built by her brother after her old home, a mud house, collapsed. In her kitchen, there was bread, two coconuts and a small portion of rice. “I have enough to eat only because I have meals at my mothers,” she said.

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Protests against gasoline price hikes in Lebanon

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Wai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where leaked documents show how some countries are lobbying to change a key report on climate change, Moscow announces new full lockdown and the world's first robot artist is arrested over spying allegations. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the rapprochement between two leaders currently at odds with Europe: UK's BoJo and Turkey's Erdogan.

[*Bodo - India, Nepal and Bengal]


• Documents reveal countries lobbying against climate action: Leaked documents have revealed that some of the world's biggest fossil fuel and meat producing countries, including Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to water down a UN scientific report on climate change and pushing back on its recommendations for action, less than one month before the COP26 climate summit.

• COVID update: The city of Moscow plans to reintroduce lockdown measures next week, closing nearly all shops, bars and restaurants, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a nationwide seven-day workplace shutdown from Oct. 30 to combat the country's record surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Meanwhile, India has crossed the 1 billion vaccinations milestone.

• India and Nepal floods death toll passes 180: Devastating floods in Nepal and the two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Kerala have killed at least 180 people, following record-breaking rainfall.

• Barbados elects first ever president: Governor general Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados' first president as the Caribbean island prepares to become a republic after voting to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

• Trump to launch social media platform: After being banned from several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch his own app called TRUTH Social in a bid "to fight back against Big Tech." The app is scheduled for release early next year.

• Human remains found in hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance: Suspected human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park, more than one month after his disappearance. Laundrie was a person of interest in the murder of his fiancee Gabby Petito, who was found dead by strangulation last month.

• Artist robot detained in Egypt over spying fear: Ai-Da, the world's ultra-realistic robot artist, was detained for 10 days by authorities in Egypt where it was due to present its latest art works, over fears the robot was part of an espionage plot. Ai-Da was eventually cleared through customs, hours before the exhibition was due to start.


"Nine crimes and a tragedy," titles Brazilian daily Extra, after a report from Brazil's Senate concluded that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government had failed to act quickly to stop the deadly coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of crimes against humanity.


Erdogan and Boris Johnson: A new global power duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too, write Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung in German daily Die Welt.

🇹🇷🇬🇧 According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey. The country has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

⚠️ Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey. She never supported French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU. But now that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

🤝 At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense. The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016.

➡️


"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life."

— David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, following the announcement that imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union's highest tribute to human rights defenders. Navalny, who survived a poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, is praised for his "immense personal bravery" in fighting Putin's regime. The European Parliament called for his immediate release from jail, as Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against the activist that could see him stay in jail for another decade.



Chinese video platform Youku is under fire after announcing it is launching a new variety show called in Mandarin Squid's Victory (Yóuyú de shènglì) on social media, through a poster that also bears striking similarities with the visual identity of Netflix's current South Korean hit series Squid Game. Youku apologized by saying it was just a "draft" poster.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Anyone want to guess Trump's first post on his upcoming social media platform...? Let us know how the news look in your corner of the world — drop us a note at!

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