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Politics of drought under Bolsa Família program in Northeast Brazil

Ana Maria Bedran-Martins and Maria Carmen Lemos

World Development Perspectives, 2017, vol. 7-8, 15-21

Abstract: For many years, Northeast Brazil has experienced severe droughts in different period, and for the past fourteen years, Brazil has implemented an encompassing social reform under the general umbrella of the Zero Hunger Program, which the primary and more encompassing component of this policy is a program called Bolsa Família, whose main thrust is a conditional cash transfer for families below a certain income level. The program has yielded impressive results in rapidly increasing human development. In this article, we explore the evolution and politics of drought response intervention in Northeast Brazil and, in particular, in the state of Ceará. Using qualitative data from a series of in-depth key informant interviews across state and municipal levels. We focus both on anti-poverty intervention that, in principle, would increase the capacity of poor households to respond to drought and on specific risk management resources geared towards mitigating drought impact. We find that, on the one hand, the impetus to reform drought response at the state level has decreased rent-seeking and clientelism related to some resources when compared to the authoritarian period, but on the other hand, the persistence of certain forms of paternalism, patronage and clientelism has created a socially undesirable resilient state that has resisted attempts for change.

Keywords: Bolsa Familia; Drought; Clientelism; Brazil (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2017.10.003

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