Programa bolsa família

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10 de maio de 2004

  1. Resumo Executivo (em inglês)

  2. Povos Indígenas e Comunidades de Remanescentes de Quilombos

  3. Legislação e serviços: as políticas públicas

    1. A legislação e as populações indígenas

    2. A legislação e as Comunidades de Remanescentes de Quilombos

    3. As Políticas Públicas: Educação e Saúde

      1. A educação escolar indígena

      2. A saúde indígena

  4. Políticas e Programas de Redução da Pobreza

  5. O Programa Bolsa Família e os Povos Indígenas e Remanescentes de Quilombos

    1. Impactos

    2. A universalidade do Programa

    3. Um Programa centrado na Família

    4. Definição dos Beneficiários: critérios de elegibilidade

    5. Cadastramento

    6. Pagamento

    7. Condicionalidades e monitoramento

    8. Portas de Saída

    9. Gestão e Controle Social

    10. Mecanismos de Monitoramento e Avaliação

    11. Intersetorialidade

  6. Recomendações

  7. Algumas sugestões e inquietações dos participantes do seminário

  8. Bibliografia e Fontes Consultadas

Anexo I: Descrição do Seminário com Antropólogos e Especialistas em Assuntos Indígenas e Quilombolas, e Lista de Participantes do Evento
Anexo II: Agenda de Consulta com Lideranças das Comunidades Indígenas no Programa Bolsa-Família (5 de abril, 2004)
Anexo III: Lista de Representantes das Lideranças Indígenas

Anexo IV: Relatórios da Consulta sobre a Participação

das Comunidades Indígenas no Programa Família

Anexo V: Agenda da Consulta com Lideranças das Comunidades Remanescentes de Quilombo no Programa Bolsa-Família (6 de abril, 2004)
Anexo VI: Lista de Representantes das Lideranças Quilombolas Consultadas
Anexo VII: Relatório da Consulta sobre a Participação

das Comunidades Remanescente de Quilombo no Programa Família

1. Resumo Executivo/Executive Summary


As part of preparing the proposed project to support Brazil’s Bolsa Família Program (BFP), consultations were carried out with representatives of the indigenous and Quilombola (afro-descendents) peoples and a diversity of anthropologists specialized in indigenous and Quilombola issues. Representatives of the Government (including MDS) participated in the consultations with representatives of indigenous and Quilombola peoples. The purpose of the consultations was to collect recommendations on: (a) ensuring that indigenous and Quilombola groups benefit from the BFP in a culturally-appropriate way; and (b) monitoring and evaluating the potential impact of the BFP in these groups. The results of these consultations form the basis for this IPDP (summary), and the recommendations from beneficiaries and specialists are included in this document. To facilitate dissemination and disclosure, the IPDP was prepared in Portuguese, with an executive summary in English. Annexes include information on the different sets of consultations. The complete IPDP is available in project files.

Finally, one consideration that permeated the aforementioned consultations as well as project preparation, and is worth reiterating in this summary is the fact that the Bolsa Família is a flagship program of the Federal Government of Brazil. The BFP was already established by law (January 9, 2004), but the regulations (regulamento) for guiding the implementation of this law are currently being drafted. This context provides important parameters for both the opportunities and limitations in terms of the recommendations presented. Furthermore, it should be recognized that many of the potential issues highlighted during the consultations equally affect other groups living in remote rural areas and, as such, the recommendations made during the consultations should also benefit these groups.


It is estimated that there are about 220 different indigenous groups, speaking 180 languages, and totaling 370,000 people living under diverse conditions in Brazil. As for Quilombola peoples, the statistics are far less accurate, with estimates ranging from 1,264 communities (Fundação Palmares) to 4,000 communities (ABA CRER) in 2003, located in rural areas of Amazonas, Maranhão, Sergipe, Bahia, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso, São Paulo, Goiás, and Minas Gerais. However, only a small sub-set of these are officially recognized communities.

Legal Framework

Indigenous Peoples. Up to the 1980s, the Brazilian Government had promoted linguistic and cultural integration of all the population into a presumed single national identity. To a large extent, the approach since the colonial period has been the establishment of a homogeneous Brazilian identity, subsuming into it all cultural specificities that came from different groups in one of the most diverse societies in the world. This stance changed with the 1988 Federal Constitution, Article 231, which moved from considering Indigenous Peoples as an “almost extinct category” to recognizing them as a differentiated ethnic group with subgroups with their own particular social organization, language, culture, customs, traditions, and beliefs. The 1988 Constitution establishes the rights of indigenous peoples through: (a) recognizing their different social organization, customs, languages, beliefs and traditions, as well as the rights to their land; (b) delegating to the Government the obligation to protect manifestations of local culture, including that of indigenous and Afro-Brazilians; and (c) determining that fundamental (basic) education be available in their native languages.

In addition to the Constitution, indigenous rights are further established in Brazil’s Education Law (Lei de Diretrizes e Bases, LDB), by Decree 26/1991, in the Resolution of the National Education Council 03/99, by the National Education Plan (law 10.172/01), and in Law 10.558/2002. These laws ensure that indigenous peoples should have access to quality fundamental education that is culturally appropriate and bilingual, and that indigenous groups have the right to formulate their own pedagogical process. Finally, these laws also establish indigenous groups’ access to higher education.

Similar to education legislation, there is extensive legislation granting indigenous peoples access to culturally-appropriate health care. Law 9.836/1999 establishes a sub-system for health care under the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS). A series of other Decrees and Portarias from 1999 to 2004 deliberate on the conditions of indigenous health care, and further differentiate the rights of these groups.

Finally, Brazil also has legislation granting and protecting indigenous rights to their land, as well as procedures for establishing indigenous territories.

Quilombolas. Although Quilombos have had a formal recognition of their cultural, economic, and historic rights, these have not been easily translated into titling of the land where they have lived and survived for several centuries. Since the Afonso Arinos Act of 1951, racial discrimination is considered a criminal act, and according to Article 5 of the Federal Constitutional of 1988, “racism is a crime for which bail is not available.” Paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 212 read that “the state shall protect all expressions of popular Indigenous and African culture as well as all of those that contributed to Brazilian civilization,” whereas Article 68 of the transitory constitutional provision states that “the definitive ownership of the descendants of the Quilombos to the land they are occupying will be recognized and the state shall make efforts to issue them titles to their land.” The Ministry of Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPPIR) and the Palmares Cultural Foundation, in the Ministry of Culture, in conjunction with other ministries (and an inter-ministerial commission), have been involved in promoting policy solutions related to Quilombos.

Cultural Appropriateness and Indigenous and Quilombola Participation in Bolsa Família Program

Bolsa Família is a federal program that combines four cash transfer programs –Bolsa Alimentação, Cartão Alimentação, Bolsa-Escola and Auxílio Gas—into a single conditional cash transfer program. The objectives of the BFP include: (a) reducing poverty and inequality today, through the provision of direct monetary transfers to poor families; and (b) reducing poverty and inequality tomorrow, by providing incentives and conditions for investments in human capital on behalf of beneficiary families, and by linking beneficiary families to complementary services that could help them invest and grow out of poverty in the future.

The BFP defines two target groups. The priority target group is those “extreme poor” families with per capita monthly incomes below R$50 (US$17). The program also targets those “moderately poor” families with per capita monthly incomes below R$100 (US$34)1 but higher than R$50 (US$17). These groups are likely to include a significant proportion of the indigenous and Quilombola peoples. The BFP uses the “Cadastro Único,” a national database of potentially poor households, to identify beneficiaries. Current eligibility criteria are based on per capita income of family, though these will be revised to incorporate a set of proxy indicators (cesta de indicadores multidimensionais) since experience shows that the use of self-declared incomes is not very accurate.

The program will provide cash transfers ranging from R$15-95 (US$5-33) to target families. The exact transfer amount will depend on income levels and household composition. Monthly transfers are expected to average about R$71 (US$24) per beneficiary family. Payments are preferably made to the mothers, as per the Bolsa Família law. The transfers would be conditional on all relevant family members complying with key human development conditionalities, such as school attendance, children’s vaccinations and health care consultations, and pre-natal and peri-natal care. Important synergies are expected from the simultaneous promotion of investments in health and education within a family. In some areas (such as remote and/or indigenous and Quilombola areas), the supply of adequate or the availability of culturally-appropriate health and education services may be lacking. The BFP is developing a policy to define co-responsibility requirements in these exceptional cases.

While BFP is designed to be inclusive of all families identified under its pre-determined criteria, if not carefully considered, certain cultural differences among the indigenous and Quilombola may hinder their access to this program. Consultations with indigenous and Quilombola representatives and with anthropologists highlighted some areas for consideration in both program design and implementation. The consultations all emphasized that the Bolsa Família Program should not be considered a comprehensive solution to the problems faced by these peoples. Key structural reforms and programs are needed. In addition, with respect to the program itself, the following are the key concerns and recommendations presented during the consultations.

Concept of Family. A key aspect of the BFP is the identification of the family as a unit of eligibility as well as to determine the amount of the benefit. However, the concept of nuclear family is not necessarily culturally appropriate for indigenous and Quilombola peoples and its application should be cautiously thought out during the revision of the Cadastro Único. While “misclassification” of a family is a potential problem, a greater concern is that, due to the ceiling in the benefit per family granted by the program, some families may feel encouraged to disintegrate into smaller units so as to receive more benefits. On the basis of the consultation discussions, specific recommendations include:

  • Beneficiary families should be defined as production and consumption units, not by physical residency. The nuclear family is the best reference for this definition but there should be flexibility; and

  • The definition of a beneficiary family should be done based on consultations with the concerned community, community associations and/or organizations, or through specialized consultants.

Eligibility criteria. As previously stated, the current eligibility criterion for the BFP is poverty as measured by the per capita income of the family. The Government already recognizes that self-declared income is not an appropriate measure and is in the process of developing a set of proxy-means indicators (cesta de indicadores multi-dimensionais) to determine eligibility. In order to ensure cultural appropriateness of the indicators selected, it was suggested that the definition take into consideration the general situation of indigenous and Quilombola communities. For this, consultations with representatives of these groups may be appropriate and the criteria established should be transparent to all. Another issue that was raised during consultations is the prioritization of beneficiaries on the part of the Government due to limited resources during the next couple of years. Given the internal closeness of most of these communities, denying benefits to one potentially eligible family while granting benefits to another may lead to problems and even disintegration within the community. Furthermore, although others supported a criteria-based selection for all BFP beneficiaries, indigenous and Quilombola representatives defended that all indigenous and Quilombola families should benefit from the program. Given the aforementioned concerns, the following specific recommendations were made:

  • Eligibility criteria should be broader than the family unit, and culturally appropriate to the concepts of indigenous and Quilombola populations;

  • When selecting the new set of proxy-means indicators to determine eligibility criteria, the Government should consider including indicators that are more appropriate to the socio-cultural reality of indigenous and Quilombola populations;

  • Priority criteria should be defined to determine which municipalities / communities will receive benefit first;

  • All eligible beneficiaries within an identified indigenous and Quilombola community should receive the benefit to avoid creating divisions within a community [indigenous and Quilombola leaders defended that absolutely all families within a community should receive the benefit, regardless of eligibility]; and

  • The community should be consulted, if exceptions are to be made, and all decisions should be transparent.

Cadastro Único. Under the BFP, all potential beneficiaries are registered under a national household registry (the Cadastro Único) which serve as the basis to determine family eligibility. The enrollment of indigenous and Quilombola families into the Cadastro Único raises several challenges. Currently, the Government is still in the process of fine-tuning the Cadastro to improve the system of identifying target populations. Municipalities generally collect and enter the data, and the Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF) consolidates the Cadastro database, while the SENARC in the MDS oversees the whole process. A pilot of the Cadastro for indigenous populations was carried out in Paraná, with the National Health Foundation (FUNASA) in charge of registering the indigenous groups. The results of that pilot are currently under evaluation.

Nonetheless, several issues regarding the Cadastro Único that could particularly affect indigenous and Quilombola peoples were raised during the consultations. First and foremost, there is a concern that municipal governments may taint the registration process, as indigenous and Quilombola groups are not traditional members of the local political electorate. Second, the Cadastro itself may not be a culturally appropriate instrument, as many of the questions in the questionnaire are based on concepts that are biased against these cultures. Additionally, many of the terms used in the Cadastro may not be appropriate for these cultures. In addition to the specific recommendations made to the instrument itself, detailed in the full IPDP report presented to the Government, the following suggestions were made:

  • Register (cadastrar) all indigenous and Quilombola families in the Cadastro and only then, using the agreed eligibility criteria, select beneficiaries;

  • Either develop a new registry instrument designed specifically for indigenous and Quilombola groups or revise the current instrument to be more culturally appropriate for these groups. Involve representatives from these groups in the process;

  • Use community health agents (Agentes Comunitarios de Saúde) to register indigenous groups;2

  • Use Quilombola people to carry out the registration of the Quilombola peoples;

  • Provide specific training to agents responsible for registering indigenous and Quilombola families so that they not impose their own cultural references in the process;

  • Disseminate information about the program, including eligibility criteria, benefits, and conditionalities to all groups including indigenous and Quilombola populations; and

  • Process the Cadastro Único in the Indigenous Sanitary Districts (Distritos Sanitários Indígenas, DSEI), rather than at the municipal level.

Benefits. As discussed above, under the BFP, families receive a monthly stipend that varies between R$15 and R$95, depending on the family’s per capita income and the number of children between 0 and 15 and pregnant family members. Payments under the BFP are made on a monthly basis. Beneficiaries withdraw benefits from a pooled account using electronic benefit cards (EBC) distributed by the CEF (the law stipulates that EBCs are preferably distributed to women in the household). In the case of indigenous and Quilombola beneficiaries, the following recommendations were made and incorporated into the project:

  • The definition of the person responsible for receiving the resources should respect the family organization and traditions. This means that in many instances, it may not be the female head of household;

  • Access to benefits by beneficiary families should be guaranteed, such as transportation to the city to withdraw the resources;3

  • Provide training to staff from Caixa Econômica Federal so as to improve service to Quilombola peoples and reduce discrimination of these groups; and

  • Beneficiary families should have autonomy in managing their resources and there should be some flexibility as to the timeframe to withdraw resources as monthly withdrawals may be difficult in remote areas (the program currently requires withdrawals to be made within a 90-day period).

Conditionalities. The specific conditionalities for beneficiary families include: (i) children until the age of one must have seven doctor visits per year; (ii) children between 0-7 years of age must have all of their vaccines up to date; (iii) children between 7 – 15 must fulfill an 85% school attendance requirement; (iv) pregnant women must have six pre-natal visits, one peri-natal visit, and vaccines up to date. Compliance with these conditionalities is to be verified through school enrollment and vaccination records. During the consultation process, it was agreed that the conditionalities should be maintained for all beneficiaries of the BFP, but that there should be flexibility in interpreting and enforcing the requirements for indigenous and Quilombola populations. This is particularly true because of supply constraints and cultural differences. The following recommendations were made:

  • Beneficiaries should not be penalized for non-compliance when schools are not available or are culturally-inappropriate;4

  • Interpretation of pre-natal care conditionality should be culturally-appropriate without stipulating the number of visits and allowing for the choice using traditional mid-wives and ensuring that the visits include appropriate vaccines and lab tests; and

  • Verification of conditionalities should be conducted by the communities themselves (or trained agents) so as to ensure culturally-appropriate interpretation in their application.

Program Strategies for the Emancipação of Beneficiary Households

The BFP contemplates evaluating and piloting innovations in “emancipação” and “bridging” approaches and service delivery. In this context, the following recommendations were made during consultations and incorporated into the project:

  • Emancipação approaches to avoid creating dependency should be designed so as to respect the culture and organization of indigenous and Quilombola peoples, their autonomy of decision, and their environment;

  • Complimentary programs and services should be planned parallel to the implementation of the BFP in a culturally-sensitive way; and

  • Ensure that program eligibility and re-certification criteria are transparent and that indigenous and Quilombola communities understand them.


As ethnic minorities, indigenous and Quilombola peoples find themselves at a disadvantaged position at terms of opportunities and quality of life prospects. While the BFP is designed to benefit all Brazilians that fit the eligibility criteria (“the poor”), such social and cultural differences may create entry barriers for these groups and put them at a disadvantage to benefit from the program. Consultations with anthropologists and beneficiaries pointed to six general areas of concern: (i) the concept of family; (ii) eligibility criteria; (iii) Cadastro Único; (iv) benefits; (v) conditionalities; and (vi) program exit. While there was consensus that the overall program design is applicable to indigenous and Quilombola groups, specific recommendations were made to improve their access to the program. In addition, the consultations all emphasized that the Bolsa Família Program should not be considered a comprehensive solution to the problems faced by these peoples. Key structural reforms and programs are needed.

Proposed Project Actions to Address Recommendations

The full IPDP was presented and discussed with the Government (which also participated in consultations), which agreed to consider the recommendations while fine-tuning the Bolsa Família Program. Additionally, in the context of the technical assistance components of the proposed loan (US$15 million), the following recommendations have been incorporated into the project:

  • Ensure that the updating of the Cadastro Único will consider cultural differences, including in the selection of indicators that will be used to determine beneficiary eligibility.

  • Train agents responsible for registering indigenous and Quilombola families so as to ensure cultural sensitivity and knowledge in the process.

  • Ensure proper dissemination of BFP information, including eligibility criteria, operations, and conditionality, specifically tailored to indigenous and Quilombola publics;

  • Continuously monitor and evaluate the BFP to ensure that indigenous and Quilombola communities have access and benefit from the program in a culturally appropriate manner and the that the program does not have unexpected negative effects on the community;

  • Provide technical assistance to the Government so that it develops a strategy to ensure that payments are accessible to groups living in reach remote areas, including indigenous and Quilombola communities; and

  • Establish a monitoring mechanism that includes representation from indigenous and Quilombola peoples.

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