Brazil Ramps Up Humanitarian Aid

Brazil Ramps Up Humanitarian Aid

A representative from Brazil (right) signs an agreement with the World Bank detailing Brazil's contribution to reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/4599782922/">World Bank Photo Collection (flickr)</a>
A representative from Brazil (right) signs an agreement with the World Bank detailing Brazil's contribution to reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Photo: World Bank Photo Collection (flickr)

Fiscal austerity may be forcing some countries to cut spending on foreign aid, but this isn’t the case everywhere. In fact, Brazil has actually tripled its official aid budget over the last two years, and according to the Guardian, the South American country is quickly becoming a leader in aid to the developing world.

Brazilian generosity is helping to offset falling donations from other countries, says The Economist. A study by Oxfam that appeared in Newsweek found that between 2008 and 2009, foreign aid from wealthy nations decreased by $3.5 billion. But a table in The Economist shows that through a combination of programs and loans to developing countries, Brazil’s 2010 contributions could total around $4 billion, though this figure includes involvement by private contractors.

And Brazil's status as a country that can empathize with developing nations gives it an advantage when designing aid programs. For example, The Economist points out that Brazil can help other countries design successful tropical agricultural programs because they've already done it themselves. The same goes for providing low-cost HIV/AIDS treatment or setting up cash transfer schemes that work.

Brazil tends to finance social programs or agriculture projects around the world, but Africa seems to be a particular focus. The Economist mentions Haiti as an example, where the Brazilian government runs a program that gives families free meals if they take their kids to school. In Angola, Brazilian contractors are building the water supply. And in Mali, Brazilian researchers run an experimental cotton farm. These efforts are even more remarkable when you consider that Brazil is still a recipient of international aid.

But if that's the case, should Brazil really be donating all this money? According to both The Economist and The Guardian, Brazil has actually benefited from increasing its foreign aid. The Guardian states that the economic ties Brazil has built with developing countries helped it escape the worst of the financial crisis, while The Economist suggests that foreign aid could boost Brazil's credibility with other nations.

But no matter what, Brazil's commitment to helping poor countries in the global south might pay big dividends in the future.

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