Brazil’s Ministry of Social Development & Bolsa Família: Making a Difference in Poverty and Hunger for At Risk Families

By | May 23, 2016

Typically when we chronicle data and analytics successes, we cite new sources of revenue, high profits or reduction in manual processes. But this story is about data and analytics saving families and lives and making history when Brazil was finally removed from the UN’s World Map of Hunger in 2014.

“The Ministry of Social Development was created in 2004 with a mission to fight against hunger and make it a principle goal in Brazil. This has been a dream. We have this feeling that everybody needs four meals a day to make their lives better, to make children’s lives better than their father’s. This is so important to open opportunities, because people who are poor for a long time don’t have the opportunities to make difference.” – Analúcia Faggion Alonso, Ministry of Social Development

The Ministry of Social Development started a program called Bolsa Família, a conditional cash transfer program aimed at reducing poverty in Brazil.  Today almost 14 million families benefit Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.43.29 AMfrom the program which pays at-risk families who send their children to school and get regular medical checkups.  Pregnant mothers, who get pre-natal care, also receive benefits.  The program sounds simple, but scaling it in the largest country in South America, with timely analytics and information for social workers, was another story.  Monitoring and enforcing the program’s conditions are critical elements of Bolsa Família.

Based on a mixed architecture, the previous solution took 5 days to process more than 170M records.  With the new Teradata integrated data warehouse and the logical data model, MDS combined data from more from 14 million families, data from doctor’s offices, schools, and other social programs. Now, 31,000 social workers across more than 5500 municipalities can get answers within four minutes.

“I don’t believe you can do it without the technology. It’s the technology that helps us improve to faster things. In the past, when we were doing all these integrations, we had different bases, different architectures. We had different arms in the federal government and all the municipalities.  We didn’t have only one system to look at.” – Analúcia Faggion Alonso, Ministry of Social Development

With the new Teradata solution, social workers have quick and easy access to records like school attendance, immunizations, and medical check ups.  They know when a family is at-risk or doing well.

“In the past when you take a long time to give the answer to a family, the answer doesn’t mean too much. Think about it. We are monitoring the frequency of the students. So social workers in the municipality go to the computer and say, ‘Mother, your children didn’t go to school.’ If five or six months have passed it, means nothing to the mother. ‘Oh, what happened to my son in February?’ When you do it quickly, you can get a response faster. All those people who are working together have this ability to look at the family, right away, ‘What happened?’ and make this change and correction.  When you do that, you make your policy more efficient.” – Analúcia Faggion Alonso, Ministry of Social Development

Those efficient policies translate into changed lives.  In 2014, the United Nations removed Brazil from their World Map of Hunger, citing Brazil’s social programs like Bolsa Familia in aiding its citizens escape from poverty and hunger.

Thank you to Bolsa Família and the Ministry of Social Development in Brazil for sharing this incredible story.

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