WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2023 — The World Bank Board of Directors approved today a US$300 million project to strengthen Brazil’s conditional cash transfer program Bolsa Familia. The project aims to protect the income of poor families in Brazil with children from zero to 6 years of age, mitigating risks to their health and education prospects. We expect the project to benefit about 9 million children, from households eligible to the Bolsa Familia Program.
Before the pandemic, one in five Brazilian were chronically poor; the pandemic widened pre-existing inequalities and today nearly half of Brazil’s children – the country’s future workforce – are growing up in poor households. Covid-19 deteriorated educational and health outcomes in Brazil, with lasting impacts on future productivity of children. It led to learning losses and falling educational achievement, due to the long school closure and uneven access to remote learning. Moreover, the pandemic had major consequences not only for the families that were infected with the Covid-19 virus, but also for children who were no longer immunized against various diseases (polio, hepatitis B and chickenpox, for example) due to the need to prioritize pandemic-related care in the health system.
This new phase of the Bolsa Familia program brings back the mandatory requirements for school attendance and compliance with the vaccination schedule and health check-ups for children that were waived during pandemic. It will also return to a model that determines the transfer size based on the family composition, including the number of household members and their ages (that was changed during the pandemic).
“The World Bank is a great partner and now we have reached another stage for the Bolsa Família Program, focused on one of the federal government's priorities: the children. In order to transfer R$ 150 per month to each child aged zero to 6 years in the program, we ensure the condition that this child is assisted in the area of health and education, with the participation of, Ministry of Education and of the Unified Social Assistance System,” said Wellington Dias, Brazil’s Minister of Social Development. “The World Bank has approved the transfer of US$300 million, an amount that will help us meet the conditions of this program. We want to reach up to 9 million children, thus guaranteeing a better living condition.”
The World Bank has a long-standing operational and analytical engagement with Brazil in social protection issues, dating back in 2003 when it supported the development of the Bolsa Família program and the delivery infrastructure of the current social assistance system. This includes the US$1 billion project provided during the Covid-19 crisis to help expand the program.
“The Bolsa Família program shows that it is possible to tackle poverty and inequality in a sustained way, integrating millions of poor people into the economy and society, while contributing to economic development,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Brazil. “The World Bank continues to provide technical and financial support to the program to help ensure that.”
Yuri Szabo Yamashita