Latin American Models Help Africa Escape Poverty

  •  united nations
  • Inter Press Service

'In many of the African societies, without calling it social protection or government protection, people have been doing a number of activities to support one another,' Gawanas said, stressing that these activities could be shared and replicated across borders.

Gawanas pointed to the Bolsa Familia programme in Brazil, as an example of successful social policy: 'The minister of social development of Brazil came to Namibia and talked about the concept of Bolsa Familia… And we expect the African Union to work very closely to Brazil, so that we can promote that model across the continent. It is about South-South cooperation and Africa-South America cooperation.'

The Bolsa Familia programme reaches 26 percent of the population in Brazil - representing over 46 million people. It is reported to cost less than half a percent of Brazilian GDP, and consists of a cash transfer incentive, where poor families commit to keeping their children in school and taking them for regular health checks.The programme reduced poverty in Brazil by 12 percent between 2001 and 2005, and has contributed to one-third of the reduction in income inequality over the last decade.

Inspired by the success of the Bolsa Familia, many countries in Africa have implemented similar anti-poverty programmes. In 2007, Brazil provided the government of Ghana with technical assistance in the design of a social grant program entitled Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP). The programme consists of conditional and unconditional cash transfers to orphans, the elderly and the disabled - helping over 15,000 families in 50 districts.

In Kenya, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme now provides conditional cash transfers to schools, while promoting local agriculture by using locally-sourced food.

© Inter Press Service (2011) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service