Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Programa Oportunidades de Mexico


(Don't forget to vote in the poll on the right of the page)

This was in the news yesterday and worth sharing. With the ever increasing costs of grains and other food stuffs, the Mexican government has taken action to increase the amount of money allotted to Mexico's poorest 5 million families. The subsidy has now been increased to between 535 pesos and 650 per month per family. This money is a direct deposit to those families who qualify. This is in addition to free medical services and job opportunities as well as other services.

Some of the benefits from this program which was started in 1997 are:

24% increase in primary and secondary enrollment
85% increase in high school or what we call estudios superiores which can include technical job training
23% decrease in drop out rates for these 5,ooo,ooo families
20% less sick days for both children in school and adults in the workplace
22% improvement of intake of proteins and fresh produce

How is the money distributed and how are do the families qualify? Via bi-monthly (every two months) certification by social workers The mother or a female caretaker receives the money and services directly Mobile units that go to areas to deliver the funds and services when banks and services are not available in the area The amount of benefits increases depending on the advancement of the children in school.

A quick breakdown of the funds in dollar terms per month:

$16 per family for food
$11-$69 scholarship per student
$300 dollars in a savings account (yearly) for students who continue their studies above secondary
$23 per adult over age seventy that is part of one of the families (to care for elders at home) $0 for basic health care.

This may not seem like a large sum of money, but with a work program in place plus the incentives above Mexico is making great strives in reducing poverty or the effects of poverty. 16 dollars or 170 pesos a month buys a lot of milk, eggs, tortillas, beans and rice considering they also receive subsidies on the basic food stuffs. For example, milk is distributed by a government program called Liconsa and milk is sold for 4 pesos a liter. It barely covers the cost of production but the saving is passed on to the families. I brought this up because many people wonder what we are doing to help indigenous and rural peoples of Mexico. The government realizes that education is the only exit from these problems but will not fall into a "welfare state" program require that families meet standards and continue their children's educations.

Road Construction Hwy 85

There are four bridges being built this next year on Hwy 85 from Monterrey to my house. These bridges are actually overpasses. One is already complete and the one pictured below just began less than two months ago. Why is this so interesting? In the past, any type of government construction would take literally years to complete, be poorly constructed using low-grade materials. In the last 10 years we have been using the Fast-Track system, qualifying builders, materials and designs via bids and contests. Sure we had them in the past but corruption played a huge role in the process.

They are building this overpass one side at a time to keep traffic flowing and I will attempt to update the picture every week so that we can see just how long it takes for this project to be completed.

No comments:

Post a Comment