The United Nations formulated global targets to be attained by all nations which are referred to as millennium development goals (MDGs), which need to be met by 2015. This is the foundation for the major development agendas set by separate nations in the world today that all are geared towards these goals. For instance these goals includes poverty and hunger reduction, universal primary education, equitable access to all levels of education and a reduction in maternal and child mortality (Behrman Sengupta, 2001, p. 45).
Therefore in order these targets to be achieved globally, they ought first to be achieved by the individual nations as units making the globe. This therefore calls for the commitment of nations geared towards implementing multi sectoral strategies of these individual nations in the whole world to attain these MDGs which bears the common good to the majority. In this connection, Latin America is not an exception to the global programs.
In this regard, Latin America established five conditional cash transfers programs aimed at reducing poverty and to increase human capital in form of education, (Cardoso Souza, 2003, p. 23) health and nutrition in order to contribute to the attainment of the United Nations development targets set by the year 2015 in the globe (Coady Parker, 2004, p. 178). These programs include Bolsa Escola program (which provides school grants), Programme for the Eradication of Child Labour in Brazil, the Families in Action program in Colombia, the Social Protection Network in Nicaragua, and Oportunidades program in Mexico.
However this term paper shall give focus to the Oportunidades program in Mexico (Cardoso Souza, 2003, p. 63). Concepts of Conditional cash transfers The concepts of CCT (Conditional cash transfers) are new development programs adapted by nations as a result of global development challenges. The approach of CCTs are adapted with an aim to foster human capital accumulation among the young generation in order to break inter-generational vicious poverty cycle in the modern generation (ECLAC, 2002, p. 82), so that tomorrow world can have a poverty free generation with reduced social crisis.
Therefore CCTs involves providing and availing money to poor families conditional upon investments in human capital such educating children, improving the health through creating health centrers close to the people and nutritional aspect (Coady Parker, 2004, p. 23). This is done through the use of the demand-side interventions to support directly the beneficiaries as opposed to traditional supply-side mechanisms like provision of general subsidies or investments in health providers of social services or health facilities and centrers or schools.
In this regard therefore Conditional Cash Transfers programs targets at improving children’s human capital. Which is similar to the case of Latin America and Mexico’s Programa de Educacion, Saludy Alimentacion (PROGRES) (Behrman Sengupta, 2001, p. 131). However in order to analyse the conditional cash transfers, the analysis should be based on the new approach to social protection, that encompasses risk management approach that is aimed at enhancing human capital and defeating poverty in the longer term plans (Attanasio Gomez Heredia Vera-Hernandez, 2005, p. 5).
For instance the social risk management strategy indicates that individuals, households and communities are exposed to multiple risks in their environment. Thus Poverty translates to greater vulnerability of the poor community, simply because poor people in the community or society usually are limited to access to instruments that are necessary for risk management (Behrman Sengupta, 2001, p. 213). In addition poor sect of society or community are always poorly prepared to cope with crises whenever they occur.
For example the poor sect would handle a financial crisis using an informal method and approach like taking their children out of school and keeping them at home, which is insufficient approach to crisis management. This way of handling crises results to irreversible loss of human capital and perpetuated intergenerational poverty cycle that becomes hard and difficult to reduce (Cardoso Souza, 2003, p. 141). In this respect the social risk management model uses three functions that are vital for the public policies. This includes the prevention, mitigation and coping, which embraces the long term benefits and reduced consequences.
Therefore, it ends up helping benefiting people living in structural poverty, people who are just above the poverty line and groups with special needs in the society. Therefore, the CCTs approach is rooted from the concept of social protection as human capital investment that holds that poverty is reproduced across human generations due to a lack of investment in human capital (Behrman Sengupta, 2001, p. 63). In this respect CCTs approach is more effective than the traditional approach, since it incentivizes this human capital investment by attaching conditions to transfers to produce desired results to the community and world at large.
The use of CCTs in education ensures that opportunity cost of education is reduced hence reinforces the income effect of the transfer in such a way that school attendance and child labour is not as a substitute to income effect. This is aided by implementation regulations such as compulsory attendance of school by children with income substitution to enhance its impact. In this case when the children spend much time in school they would not consume as much resources as they would consume when are at home.
Hence in terms of conditional cash transfers it implies that,there will be a minimum transfer amount needed to produce incentives >0 to send children to school (Attanasio Gomez Heredia Vera-Hernandez, 2005, p. 56). Therefore, this ensures that the saved resources are put to development agendas that will enhance wealth creation and more investment realization. The program was created in the year 1997 by Mexican Federal Governments as a strategy to support rural families in extreme poverty to alleviate from those poor conditions (Cardoso Souza, 2003, p. 39).
But the name changed to Oportunidades meaning Opportunities that was extended to urban populations by president Fox in the 2001. This program uses the conditional cash transfer concept within Latin America and its design marks a significant shift in social services provision in Mexico today. The guiding principles that the program uses to work are; targeting, intersectorality, empowerment of women and shared responsibility. The program was created for the purpose of increasing the capabilities of families that live in extreme poverty by investing in human capital in Mexico (Attanasio Gomez Heredia Vera-Hernandez, 2005, p. 42).
This goal has three main objectives which includes education, health and nutrition. This is because the three component are dependent of each other. For instance, education will enhance technological development in the health and food production sectors to handle diseases and agricultural areas respectively, while education can not continue and progress within the environment that is infested by diseases and poor health as a result of malnutrition. Both components, if they are not balanced, can result to poor productivity in the economy and society.
In this connection, the following section shall look at these three components Educational component The payments that concerns educational expenses are made to families with children under the age of 18 who are enrolled in school between the first year of primary education and the third year of secondary school. But in order to create and initiate incentive for families to invest in human capital, payments are conditional to children attending school. In addition, if a child has a non-attendance rate of over 15 percent in one academic month without a valid reason, the family does not receive the assistance that concerns education.
By doing so, the government ensures that great emphasis is laid to education and eliminates unnecessary laxity in the implementation process, by involving parent to monitor their children and educationalists to keep updated record which the government uses to allocate payments to parents hence, each stakeholder participates in the process (Calde Coady, 2004, p. 272) . The amount of money that is transferred are set basing on the additional income the children would be fetching to the family if the child would be working and not attending to school.
The payment rises with an increase in the age of a child. However, this is schemed higher for girls at secondary level (ECLAC, 2002, p. 71) . This is to encourage a girl child education like many parts of the world today do. In addition to regulation of the payment, the pay is designed to be inflation concious that prevents falling of value. In general, the grant is dependant on the enrolment and school attendance. While, the grant covers both direct costs required like school fees, school supplies, transportation and the opportunity costs as a result of attending school in Mexico (Davis, 2003, p. 30).
Health component In relation to the health component Oportunidades program invokes the provision of primary health care to all members of the family, this to cultivate an enabling environment for the leaner to able attended to well. The health services are provided at clinics, dispensaries and health centrers which are operated and run by Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (Mexican Social Security Institute) and the Secretariat of Health (Davis, 2003, p. 128). These grants are targeted to newborn children of about 2-3 years of age (ECLAC, 2002, p. 129), hich may continue up to the time the children enrols in primary school level. In addition to the that, pregnant and lactating women are included in the program. This component consists of a cash transfer aimed at health care, nutrition education and food consumption that benefits mothers and children.
The transfer is on the basis of compliance by participating household members with a pre-determined number of health centre visits and health and nutrition workshops which are attended, this ensures a full participation in the process and community unity (Gertle, 2000, p. 61). The children’s health care visits are linked to growth monitoring and vaccination protocols that needs to be observed by mothers. This ensures that, the health standards are maintained by citizen which forms a healthy nation. In addition to that, Health Care visits for pregnant and lactating women ensures appropriate prenatal, childbirth and puerperal care (Calde Coady, 2004, p. 76) through attending clinical check-ups once or twice per year in Mexico.
This health component ensures that the society’s well being is taken into account therefore, this will translate to good education involvement and participatory. Therefore health component indirectly or directly promotes and support education. Nutrition component The grant provided is directed towards providing money to improve food consumption and availability, especially to children below age of 4 months to 2 years (Gertle, 2000, p. 232), weaned babies and breastfeeding mothers.
This package is inclusive of children aged above the age of 2 years to 5 years who are at risk of malnutrition or those who are poorly nourished (ECLAC, 2002, p. 223) in the society. The condition to continue and get the grants is based upon ability to visit the health clinics regularly, in this way, the population continues to be updated on the health prevention and cure methods while the government gets the required statistics that are vital for planning and fighting infections to its citizens.
It should be noted that the nutrition and health voucher as equivalent to the value of the time invested by the mother during the trip and waiting at the health centre to to get health services (Calde Coady, 2004, p. 267). For instance, the statistics indicate that health grant per beneficiary per month was set at the same level as the education transfer of about US$9, which is twice the monthly expenditure per person on health care and medicine costs.
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