UNDP helps boost Brazil-Africa partnerships

25 Mar 2011

image President of Brazil’s development Bank (BNDES) Luciano Coutinho (left) discusses partnership with UNDP Directors for Latin America and the Caribbean, Heraldo Muñoz (middle) and Africa, Tegegnework Gettu (right). (Photo: BNDES)

Brasilia/Rio de Janeiro - Brazil’s experience in lifting millions of people out of poverty and in spurring agricultural and energy innovations is crucial to promoting development in Africa, according to regional directors of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Sharing of knowledge and technological advances between Brazil and Africa was the focus for Heraldo Muñoz, UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Tegegnework Gettu, UNDP Director for Africa, on a two-day visit to Brazil this week.

They met with government representatives in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro following an agreement on cooperation across the South Atlantic signed last year by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the Brazilian government.

“I believe that an extended partnership is crucial for Brazil because UNDP has long-standing presence in Africa, and understands each country’s realities,” said Luciano Coutinho, President of Brazil’s development bank (BNDES, in Portuguese) in a meeting with the UNDP directors.

"Brazil is already one of Africa’s important trading partners,” Gettu said. “There is a big demand from countries in Africa to partner with Brazil in areas beyond commerce. It has experience to help boost Africa’s development in many different ways – and also to share lessons learned.”

Muñoz added: “The currently existing Brazil-UNDP partnership has been crucial, for example, in Haiti’s post-quake reconstruction, and can inspire similar support to countries in Africa recovering from crises.”

To support Haiti’s health system recovery, the Government of Brazil has pledged more than US$30 million to UNDP. Working with other UN agencies, UNDP and Cuban doctors will train health providers in Haiti.

Food security

"Our goal is to strengthen existing partnerships and provide a platform for the Brazilian government to share its successful experiences with African countries in the areas of food security, agriculture, poverty reduction and hunger eradication," said Jorge Chediek, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Brazil.

Although a majority of Africans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, basic food staples are imported, and nearly one third of Africa’s population is undernourished, the highest proportion of any region in the world.

Through investments in Embrapa—Brazil's state-owned agriculture research centre—Brazil brought about a green revolution in the 1970s, turning the country into one of the world’s largest exporters of food such as grains, meat, oranges and coffee.

In addition, African countries can draw lessons from Brazil’s social policies and programmes, such as Bolsa Familia, which provides families with financial incentives for keeping their children in school. Around 12 million families have benefited from the programme.