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Brazil's new plan to beat poverty

Brazil just launched a new, multibillion-dollar program to aid the 16 million Brazilians still living in extreme poverty. The program is the latest in an effort across Latin America to stamp out poverty.

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Clemilda dos Santos has 11 children. She will receive additional help under Brazil’s new social programs.

Taylor Barnes

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With a monthly stipend that she receives from the Brazilian government, Clemilda dos Santos can now keep the refrigerator stocked for her 10 kids, but life for the family is still precarious. At the top of a red clay hill in Japeri, the town with the lowest human development index in the state of Rio, the one-bedroom home she shares with her whole family still floods with rainwater. Her kids need winter coats.

In the past decade, Brazil has been touted for lifting 25 million people out of poverty, thanks to macroeconomic stability, high commodities prices, and a much hailed social program called Bolsa Familia that gives families monthly cash for families that adhere to conditions such as keeping kids in classrooms. But as the nation continues to rise – it became majority middle class in 2008, according to the Rio-based Getúlio Vargas Foundation – leaders say they are determined to do more, arguing that packed homes and uncloaked children have no place in today’s economic landscape.

Now Brazil has launched another multibillion-dollar antipoverty plan, called Brazil Without Misery, to reach the remaining 16 million Brazilians still living in extreme poverty. Expanding upon Bolsa Familia, it will increase cash transfers, improve public services, and create new job opportunities for the poor. Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff, who took office in January, says her aim is to eliminate extreme poverty within four years.

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