Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has launched a program to eradicate the extreme poverty afflicting 16.2 million people in Brazil by 2014, aiming to fulfill a campaign promise.
"Fighting poverty is a government duty and a task for all Brazilians. We cannot forget that the most challenging crisis, the biggest and most distressing problem in this country, is chronic poverty," she said in announcing the plan at the presidential palace.
"I will fight to eradicate poverty for good."
Her proposal follows social policies undertaken by her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during his eight-year term, during which 28 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty and 36 million moved up to the economy-driving middle class, according to official data.
"Brazil Without Poverty" plans to budget $12.5 billion dollars a year, with some additional social programs included, according to Social Development Minister Tereza Campello.
It intends to link existing income programs with access to public education, health, welfare, sanitation, electricity and access to labor. And environmentally conscious citizens get extra benefits.
People classified as the extremely poor live on income of less than $43 per month. Social workers and local agencies will search for poor families using a census.
"We want to guarantee income, access to public services, education, health and decent living conditions. The government has an obligation to go where the poor are," Campello said.
In a country known for its large gap between rich and poor, 71 percent of Brazilians living in extreme poverty are black. Half of the poor are under 19 and nearly 60 percent live in the northeastern parts of the country.