Brazil: Bolsa Familia Program – Scaling-up Cash Transfers for the Poor


Brazil: Bolsa Familia Program – Scaling-up Cash Transfers
for the Poor

Author: Kathy Lindert, Senior Economist, LCSHS – World Bank

Executive Summary

In 2003, the government of Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva launched a comprehensive program to stimulate growth and
social progress. On the social side, the centerpiece was a sweeping reform of Brazil’s social safety net, the Bolsa Fa-
milia Program (BFP), which integrated four cash transfer programs into a single program under the umbrella of a new
Ministry of Social Development. The transfers are made preferentially to women in each family. The program supports
the formation of human capital at the family level by conditioning transfers on behaviors such as children’s
school attendance, use of health cards, and other social services.

Since its launch, the Bolsa Familia Program has grown exponentially, and by January 2005 had expanded to cover
about 26.4 million people. By the end of 2006, about 44 million people are expected to be covered, at least two-thirds
of whom are extremely poor.

In terms of numbers of beneficiaries, the Bolsa Familia Program is by far the largest conditional cash transfer in the
developing world. Its systems for beneficiary selection, monitoring and evaluation, quality control, and scaling up
have implications that extend well beyond Brazil.

The World Bank’s project to support the Bolsa Familia Program was conceptualized within a results-based management
framework, of which there are two key aspects. First, mechanisms were developed to pace loan disbursements
according to results – for example, through concrete technical improvements in areas such as beneficiary targeting.
Activities undertaken under three technical components of the loan cumulatively contribute toward attainment of performance
milestones. As these milestones are demonstrably met, they trigger increases in the rates of loan disbursements.
Disbursement percentages increase from 8 to 9 to 11 percent, depending on performance. Second, the project
includes a monitoring and evaluation system that is focused on results and thus intrinsic to both the architecture and
the implementation of the program.

The Need to Extend and Strengthen Brazil’s
Social Safety Net – in a Hurry

In 2003, the newly elected government of Luiz Ignacio
Lula da Silva launched a comprehensive program
to stimulate rapid growth and social progress. On the
social side, the centerpiece of this effort was known as
Bolsa Familia, a sweeping reform of Brazil’s social
safety programs that consolidated four federal cash
transfer programs (see box) and coordinated them
with other social programs and policies.

What are Conditional Cash Transfers?

Conditional cash transfers provide money directly to poor
families via a “social contract” with the beneficiaries – for
example, sending children to school regularly or bringing
them to health centers. For extremely poor families, cash
provides emergency assistance, while the conditionalities
promote longer-term investments in human capital.

As of January 2005, Bolsa Familia covered 6.6 million
families and accounted for about a quarter of
Brazil’s social safety net spending. By the end of
2006, the consolidated Bolsa Familia proposes to

cover 11.2 million families (about 44 million people).
The social investment would represent an increase
from 1.1 percent to 2.5 percent of total government
expenditure, and an increase from 0.2 percent to 0.5
percent of Brazil’s GDP. The Bolsa Familia Program
was prioritized by the Lula administration as its flagship
social program.

Why existing programs needed to be reformed. Four
pre-reform safety net programs were included in the
Lula administration’s safety net consolidation: Bolsa
Escola (Ministry of Education), Bolsa Alimentação
(Ministry of Health), Cartão Alimentação ( Fome
Zero), and Auxílio Gas (Ministry of Mines/Energy).
Although each of these programs had its own emphasis
– promoting schooling, health care, food consumption,
compensation for fewer government subsidies,
and so forth – the separate programs were redundant
and difficult to administer. They all provided cash
transfers to roughly the same target population. Each
had its own separate administrative structure, data
collection, fiduciary procedures, and public reporting.
The resulting safety net was filled with both gaps and
redundancies in coverage, and the programmatic
fragmentation sacrificed opportunities for synergies at

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the family level among schooling, health, nutrition,
and other services.

What integration accomplished. The Bolsa Familia
Program integrated the four programs into a single
conditional cash transfer program under the umbrella
of a new Ministry of Social Development. Integration
of the four programs made better use of public resources
by reducing administrative costs and improving
the system for targeting the beneficiary population.
The program and methodology were extended
vertically to integrate the federal program with the
state and municipal safety net programs, further extending
and consolidating (or coordinating) the overall
safety net. By standardizing results indicators and
administrative procedures under a single program
(rather than four separate programs), bureaucratic
complexity was reduced. Finally, integration of the
program as a concept – that is, as a way of thinking
about, discussing, and planning, as well as administering
– encouraged natural “synergy opportunities” for
larger-scale actions related to education, health, and
nutrition for the poor.


The Bolsa Familia Program has two main objectives.
The first is to reduce Brazil’s current poverty and inequality
by means of direct monetary transfers to poor
families. The second objective is to reduce future poverty
and inequality through incentives for poor families
to build their own human capital, that is, positive
incentives to keep children in school, send them to
health centers, and seek other complementary social
services. Doing so requires two kinds of conditions:

Quantitative – a far greater number of (properly
targeted) poor people brought into the safety net

Qualitative – significantly better outcomes, as
assessed by demonstrable improvements in clear,
understandable indicators of well-being for each
beneficiary, as well as improvements in the transparency
of processes used in implementation
More broadly, Brazil’s commitment to the Bolsa Fa-
milia objectives also served to better align the country
with the Millennium Development Goals – for example,
reducing malnutrition (MDG 1), achieving universal
education (MDG 2), reducing child mortality
(MDG 4), and improving maternal health (MDG 5)
through the demand-side incentives for investments in
education, nutrition, and health for pregnant women
and young children.

Design and Implementation

Building on a foundation of previous programs and
lessons learned, the Bolsa Familia Program was designed
around four key management concepts:

The family unit (rather than the individual or a
community) was the appropriate entity to receive
the benefit and should in turn bear responsibility
for meeting the program’s requirements.

Conditionalities to link transfers to positive incentives
for human capital investments were viewed
as fundamental to strengthening the “investment”
role of the program for long-term poverty reduction.

Through attention to vertical integration, complementary
decentralized partnerships could be developed
through state and municipal social programs.

A Unified Household Registry (referred to as the
Cadastro Único) is being strengthened through
technical improvements to better serve as a
mechanism for targeting beneficiaries as well as
for administration and overarching policy planning.
Targeting the poor. By design, Bolsa Familia identified
two target groups – the “extreme poor” (families
with a per capita income of less than US$17 per
month) and the “moderately poor” (families with a per
capita monthly income between US$17 and $34). Depending
on the household’s composition and income,
the program provides cash transfers ranging from
US$5 to $33 (the average is US$24). These amounts
were set, in part, to minimize the number of people
who might lose benefits from previous programs. On
a per capita basis, the average transfer per beneficiary
represents about 6 percent of the minimum wage and
19 percent of the poverty line used by the World

Conditionalities aimed at human capital formation.

By law, payments are made preferentially to the
mother of the household – because a substantial body
of research has demonstrated that women are more
likely to prioritize investments in children’s education,
health, and nutrition. The cash transfers are conditional
upon all relevant members of the family complying
with the clearly defined human development
requirements of school attendance, prenatal visits,
vaccinations, and use of other social services.

Innovative features of the lending instrument. The
World Bank’s loan to support the Bolsa Familia program
is a tailor-made package that combines three
innovative design features. First, a two-phase Adaptable
Program Loan (APL) was devised. The first
phase (2004-06) focuses on strengthening the effec-

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Brazil: Bolsa Familia Program – Scaling-up Cash Transfers for the Poor

tiveness of the safety net by consolidating the four
conditional cash transfer programs, reducing gaps and
duplication in coverage, improving systems for identifying
the target population, and developing an effective
monitoring and evaluation system. The attainment
of key objectives – measured by clearly defined results
indicators – serves as a series of triggers to move
implementation to the APL’s second phase (2007-08),
which is designed in turn to consolidate and deepen
the technical improvements and innovations of the
first phase.

International Donor Support

The Brazilian government requested the World Bank to
partner the BFP in the context of longstanding Bank support
for its social agenda under the Policy Sector Reform
framework. These efforts included a three-year rolling
program of economic and sector work on social assistance,
supported by the Bank and the UK.. In addition,
UNDP supports Bolsa Familia through the Ministry of
Social Development, and the Inter-American Development
Bank has undertaken a parallel initiative for a SWAp
project to support the program. The Bank’s four-year project
loan, excluding counterpart funds, is expected to be
US$572.2 million.

Second, the project was developed with a SWAp
component (see box) of US$551 million that serves
primarily to reimburse the government for conditional
cash transfer expenditures. In addition, a separate
technical component was designed to improve beneficiary
targeting (US$4.4 million).

A technical component was designed to develop the
new monitoring and evaluation system, including development
of instruments and processes to track eligibility,
payments, conditionality performance, etc.
(US$7 million). A relatively small institutional component
(US$2.8 million) helps to strengthen institutional
capacity for the Bolsa Familia Program and a
fifth component supports project management.

Third, mechanisms were developed to pace disbursements
of the conditional cash transfers according to
results – in this case, specific technical improvements
to the program. The activities supported under the
three technical components of the loan contribute cumulatively
to meeting key milestones that define the
performance of the program.

As milestones are demonstrably met, the monthly disbursement
percentages increase from 8 to 9 to 11 percent
of the budget of the government’s Bolsa Familia

What Is a SWAp?

A program-based sectorwide approach – a kind of lending
process that provides financial support for sector policy
with clearly defined qualitative and quantitative targets.
It generally encompasses:

A medium-term program under government leadership,
with matching sources and uses of funds

A formalized process of donor coordination, with transparent
roles and agreed rules

A results-based monitoring system for major inputs,
outputs, and outcomes

A shared system, to the extent possible, for procedural
reporting and financial management.
How pacing of disbursements reflects the Managing
for Results Framework. The pacing of disbursements
(the SWAp component) according to measurable improvements
to the program (the three technical components)
has several objectives that reflect the logic of
a Managing for Results Framework:

The Bank as lender and the government of Brazil
as borrower are linked in a pragmatic partnership
to support the government’s Bolsa Familia Program.
Each recognizes and benefits from the need
for technical improvements in the Bolsa Familia
Program’s systems in the short run.

Immediate interdependencies and stronger synergies
develop between effective implementation
(that is, the objective of safety net consolidation,
as defined in Component 1) and the specific technical
activities (targeting, monitoring and evaluation,
etc.) that could otherwise become stand-alone
bureaucratic units divorced from the outcomes

A strong incentive evolves for the implementing
agency to achieve – or better yet, exceed – the key
milestones for systems improvements. If milestones
are reached, the loan’s financing percentage
increases and disbursements accelerate. For this
reason, the finance and planning ministries also
have a strong incentive to actively support crucial
technical activities that will concretely assist in
meeting milestones.
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The Relationships between M&E, Implementation,
and Results

The consolidation of the existing conditional cash transfers
is defined as an intermediate result to be attained
during Phase One of the project. Attainment of this objective
is pragmatically translated as follows:

At least two-thirds of poor families should be receiving
Bolsa Familia transfers

The pre-reform programs will have been eliminated,
with former beneficiaries either dropped or converted
to the Bolsa Familia

Transaction costs for transfer payments will have been
The project’s M&E system (enhanced under a technical
component) will help establish whether these specific
milestones have been reached – and if not, explain why
(for example, lack of funding, lack of political will to phase
out pre-reform programs for families, etc.). However, attainment
of these particular milestones triggers the increases
in disbursements (from 8 to 9 to 11 percent).
Attainment of the larger set of objectives in turn triggers
the second phase of the Adaptable Program Loan.

How a solid M&E system reflects the Managing for
Results Framework. The new monitoring and evaluation
system is key to the basic architecture of the
Bolsa Familia Program and reflects the design logic of
the Managing for Results Framework. A results-based
M&E system has been strongly supported by the government
since the inception phase. Its implementation
includes internal capacity building, tailoring an advanced
management information system, developing
new instruments to monitor and evaluate implementation,
and producing up-to-date information on activities
and outputs, as well as information on outcomes
over the longer term. The point is not data, but usable
feedback on the quality of service delivery and program

Problems Encountered

From its inception in October 2003, the highly visible
Bolsa Familia Program has had to contend with exceptionally
high public expectations for fast, visible,
even dramatic social results. In an effort to at least
meet its ambitious coverage targets, the government
rapidly expanded the program during its first year. Yet
as a vigilant, highly interested press has noted, coverage
is one thing and quality of delivery is another.
Reports surfaced in the press of weaknesses in the
targeting mechanism (the Cadastro Único), as well as
in the monitoring of conditionalities.

In all fairness, these problems are not new. Many of
the difficulties were inherited from the pre-reform

programs, and indeed, the World Bank’s results-based
project was designed precisely to address them. Even
prior to Senate approval and loan signing, the Bank
team has been working closely with ministry counterparts
to engage in continuous dialogue and ongoing
technical assistance on how best to define, measure,
monitor, and evaluate beneficiary targeting and other
support systems, and more broadly, the sustained
quality and longer-term output of the project.

Adaptations Made in Implementation

In that Bolsa Familia has evolved through several precursor
safety net programs, it is itself an adaptation.
Under the results-based framework, an iterative process
to constantly adapt and improve the project is a
fundamental element of design, not a symptom of

Any welfare program in any country – particularly a
program as large as this one – runs risks of fraud and
leakages. The targeting, monitoring and evaluation
components of the project are, in effect, countermeasures
for anticipating, identifying, and minimizing
fraud. In that regard, some examples of adaptations
taken by the government include the following:

Issuing a well-publicized decree (a regulamento)
that clearly spells out the operational guidelines of
the program

Entering into formal agreements that clarify the
responsibilities of the Ministry of Education and
the Ministry of Health for monitoring and for providing
information about conditionalities to the
Ministry of Social Development

Launching a formal network system (rede de fiscalização)
for overseeing, auditing, and controlling
fraud in the BFP in collaboration with the Attorney
General (Ministerio Público) and other
public auditing agencies (procuradorias, TCU) for
monitoring and fraud controls of Bolsa Familiar

Initiating steps to improve the Cadastro Único
(developing cross-checks to reduce duplications
resulting in the canceling of some 200,000 duplicate
benefits found in the process, establishing a
working group to revise eligibility criteria and improve
questionnaires, providing training to municipalities
to strengthen implementation, developing
a quality index for monitoring and evaluating
the Cadastro, etc.)

Strengthening citizen social controls by publishing
beneficiary names by municipality on the Internet
and setting up a hotline for citizens to report irregularities
and suspected fraud, and reinstating
local committees to provide citizen oversight for
the program
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Brazil: Bolsa Familia Program – Scaling-up Cash Transfers for the Poor

Initiating work on design for an impact evaluation
of the program.
Factors for Success

While it is too early to judge the success of either the
Bolsa Familia Program or international lenders’ support,
the results framework has already proved itself to
be central in how the story is unfolding. Indeed, the
results-based management approach strongly implies
the use of technical milestones linked to disbursements
to strengthen the implementation of the program.
Even before the loan was signed – much less
before initial disbursements – the government began
working actively toward achieving the milestones that
would serve as triggers.

Results Achieved and Expected

Since its launch in December 2003, the Bolsa Familia
Program has grown exponentially, expanding by
January 2005 to cover 26.6 million people. By the end
of 2006, the program expects to cover about 44 million
people. Translated as intermediate results in the
results-based framework, this means:

At least two-thirds of extremely poor families will
be receiving Bolsa Familia income transfers.

At least 40 percent of total transfers will be going
to families in the bottom quintile of income distribution.

At least 80 percent of primary school–age children
in extremely poor beneficiary families will be attending

At least 95 percent of beneficiary children will have
and be using health cards.
Lessons Learned in the Design Phase

The Bolsa Familia project embodies lessons learned
from earlier projects in Brazil and elsewhere, including
lessons from Brazil’s extensive experience with
conditional cash transfers. Among the main lessons
learned during the design phase are the following:

The SWAp approach has great flexibility in allowing
donors to de-emphasize procedural and fiduciary
requirements in order to focus their resources more
effectively by providing better, broader, and more
useful sectoral technical assistance. SWAps encourage
donors to leverage their financial contribution and
comparative advantage among agencies, potentially
achieving impact across entire sectors that would not
be attainable at the narrower project level. By
strengthening a borrower’s fiduciary framework and
building on its experience in financial management,
the SWAp approach responds to countries’ frequent
requests that redundant requirements among donors

be harmonized, thus eliminating the resource-
consuming need to maintain parallel records to satisfy
each donor’s procedural requirements. In addition,
World Bank experience with SWAps indicates that
streamlining fiduciary systems and requirements enables
the lender to substantially improve its supervision
process – by focusing on technical advice in sectoral
issues rather than as a watchdog looking for
procedural errors.

Borrowers must own, lead, and sustain their commitment
to the process. As the Lula administration’s
flagship social initiative, the Bolsa Familia Program
benefited from both high-level political and broad
public support. Consolidating conditional cash transfers
was widely perceived as a way to build on previous
successes and bring them to a new level of performance.
It cut across political parties, branches of
government, academic circles, civil society, and even
the media.

Conditional cash transfers are operationally feasible
and politically acceptable. Brazil’s ownership and
commitment of conditional cash transfers was
strengthened because of general acceptance among
the public that integration would improve the efficiency
and equity of these instruments. Among international
donors too, conditional cash transfers have
been shown to be operationally feasible and politically
acceptable as an approach to social assistance. Concerns
that cash subsidies are ‘just handouts’ can be
overcome by linking them to desirable behaviors such
as sending children to school and seeking health care;
by providing the transfers to mothers, whose decisions
on the intra-household allocation of resources tend to
favor children’s nutrition, health, and education; and
by honest monitoring and evaluation of results.

Conditional cash transfer programs have improved
educational indicators and outcomes. An ex ante
evaluation by Bourguignon, Ferreira, and Leite (2003)
found that Brazil’s Bolsa Escola Program (a predecessor
to Bolsa Familia) significantly increased the number
of children in school and decreased the number of
those that were only working. Using similar methodologies,
simulations suggest that the Bolsa Familia
could significantly increase total educational attainment
and reduce repetition rates.

Human capital conditionalities can “bridge” complementary
services. International experience suggests
that efforts to “bridge” beneficiaries from transfer
programs to other complementary services can
reduce their dependence on social assistance. Cash
transfers can serve as graduation strategies, helping
the poor to “grow” out of poverty.

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Part 3. Examples of MfDR in Sector Programs and Projects

Programs of this nature require sufficient administrative
capacity. Although Bolsa Familia is a new program
operating under a new ministry, it builds on the
foundations established by the pre-reform programs –
for example, by maintaining the channeling of payments
in a fairly direct manner through the country’s
extensive banking system. In addition, many of the
staff involved in the Ministry of Social Development
in general and the Bolsa Familia in particular have
extensive prior experience managing or working on
the federal pre-reform programs or similar local cash
transfer programs.

Innovation with new lending instruments can be
time consuming. The World Bank has relearned repeatedly
that clients generally know what they want.
To respond effectively, especially to middle-income
borrowers, the Bank must continuously be innovative
in the way that it develops and packages lending instruments.
Innovation of this sort is not only hard
work, but is also time consuming. Often, it requires
approval at the highest levels of Bank policy making;
and from the beginning of any effort, all involved departments
must be brought into the process. In general,
innovation is possible if it makes sense, is client-
oriented, and provides for assurances in regard to fiduciary
and safeguard frameworks. This requires not
only advance planning but, in most cases, a parallel
discussion and approval process on the instrument

Conclusions and Applicability to Other

The Bolsa Familia Program offers important insights
on the design and implementation of a results framework
in the context of a large ongoing, complex initiative.
The program has been featured in international
settings, for example, the Conference for Scaling-up
Poverty Reduction, held in Shanghai in May 2004. As
noted in the proceedings “Many different kinds of
interventions can be scaled up, and stories of success
do travel and get adapted elsewhere, as evidenced by
the case body. Examples include systems of cash
transfers to targeted poor families in Mexico and Brazil.”
Bolsa Familia is relevant to social protection programs
in Latin America and other regions of the

First, in terms of numbers of beneficiaries, it is by
far the largest conditional cash transfer in the developing
world and has expanded extremely rapidly.

The challenges involved with developing systems for
beneficiary selection, monitoring and evaluation,
quality control, and scaling up have implications that
extend well beyond Bolsa Familia itself.

Many of the systems’ instruments developed for the
Bolsa Familia will have widespread applicability for
other countries. These systems are particularly relevant
to the implementation of decentralized programs
– such as the Bolsa Familia’s random sample,
quality control reviews, which will provide much-
needed feedback for federal oversight of the locally
implemented program.

The lending instrument developed for the World
Bank’s project to support the Bolsa Familia Program
is already being adapted for use in other projects.
Some recent examples in Brazil include:

Adaptations of the disbursement-linked results
framework to a state-level SWAp being developed
for Ceara State

Adaptations of the results framework and disbursement
mechanisms for preparation of a new
transport project

Development of a similar lending instrument by
the IDB to support Bolsa Familia and the Ministry
of Social Development (the first such SWAp in the
The project team for Bolsa Familia has also been
called on to provide advice and to make presentations
to other country teams considering similar results-
based approaches. In all these discussions, a key message
is the importance of a long menu of options and
the tailoring of features to local realities and the specific
needs of any given operation. As demonstrated
by the World Bank’s SWAp to support Bolsa Familia,
one size does not indeed fit all, and the (potential)
success of the project is in many respects a function of
the donor’s capacity to adapt to the specific needs of
that program.

Summary: How MfDR Principles Were
Applied to Brazil’s Bolsa Familia Project

1. At all phases – from strategic planning through
implementation to completion and beyond – focus the
dialogue on results for partner countries, development
agencies, and other stakeholders.

This was the modus operandi for the team’s work
with the clients.
2. Align actual programming, monitoring, and evaluation
activities with the agreed expected results.

The Results Framework was designed to be cumulative
and calibrated with the agreed expected results.
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Brazil: Bolsa Familia Program – Scaling-up Cash Transfers for the Poor

3. Keep the results reporting system as simple, cost-
effective, and user-friendly as possible.

The project relies on country financial reporting
systems, as well as technical monitoring of the
program’s activities.
4. Manage for, not by, results by arranging resources
to achieve outcome.

The results framework – with links to positive
“upside” disbursement conditions based on improved
performance – was designed in this manner.
It focuses on outcomes: whether people can
effectively be helped to move out of poverty and
how to measure this. It also looks at the outcomes
at the state/province level.
5. Use results information for management learning
and decision making, as well as for reporting and accountability.

The results information is being used by the Brazilian
government to improve the consolidated social
protection program. Decisions are being
made, drawing on the results of the Bolsa Familia
framework and its measurement information. Accountability
and transparency are central concepts.

Bourguignon, Francois, Francisco H. G. Ferreira,
and Philippe G. Elite (2003). “Conditional
Cash Transfers, Schooling, and Child Labor:
Micro-Simulating Brazil’s Bolsa
Escola Program.” World Bank Economic
Review, Vol. 17. No. 2.

Rawlings, Laura (2004). “Cash Based Transfers.”
World Bank Working Paper, LCSHS.

World Bank (May 25, 2004). “Project Appraisal
Document: Brazil Bolsa Familia Project.”
Report No. 28544-BR.

Update on Implementation of the Results
Framework – Kathy Lindert, World Bank,
Brasilia, November 2005

The Results Reporting system was fully operational in
2005 – and it served as a guiding force for strengthening
the Bolsa Familia Program. While 2004 was a
complex transition year for the Bolsa Familia Program,
2005 was certainly the year of “maturation” of
the program. During the transition year of 2004, the
nascent program struggled to consolidate its identity,
institutional structure, and legal framework in the
midst of a sweeping ministerial reform. Even during
that critical time, the Results Framework provided a
“compass” for the BFP, guiding it to focus on consolidating
its core architecture in several key areas.

Since then – and particularly in 2005 – the government
took concrete actions to reach many of the milestones
highlighted by the Results Framework and Reporting
System. Some examples of recent activities –
which are all supported by key milestones within the
Results Framework – include:

Strengthening the targeting system through
(a) clarifying operational guidelines for the registry
system; (b) running internal and cross-system
cross-checks to validate eligibility and eliminate
duplications; (c) obtaining access to the registry
database (for MDS and the municipalities); and
(d) sharpening instruments for implementing eligibility
criteria and overhauling the registry questionnaire
(this month).

Strengthening joint intergovernmental management
of the program through formally negotiated
agreements between the central agency (MDS)
and Brazil’s subnational entities. These formal
vertical agreements include institutional “conditions”
and “targets” – in exchange for specified financial
incentives – that were established within
the results framework for quality implementation.

Developing and launching an Impact Evaluation
survey, with the first round of data collection entering
the field this month, to track and measure
the various outcome impacts of the program.

Developing and launching improved tools for program
oversight and quality control.
An important new innovation that was introduced as a
result of the lessons learned is the formal extension of
the “results-framework” approach to the decentralized
aspects of implementation of the program. As noted
above, this results framework has been carried forward
by the central agency into its relations with the
numerous subnational entities involved in implementing
specific aspects of the program. This has been
done by MDS negotiating and formalizing agreements
with the subnational bodies (26 states and over 5,000
municipalities). These agreements include specified
results and conditions for quality implementation in
exchange for financial incentives. This has been a
very innovative move for implementing a conditional
cash transfer program in a decentralized environment.

The policymakers and technical specialists involved in
the program are working very well within the guidelines
of the results framework to strengthen the Bolsa
Familia Program. The results framework indeed is
providing a “compass” to guide this process, with key
milestones specified to track progress. In terms of the
World Bank’s project to support this, a key lesson
learned is the importance of properly “calibrating”
technical milestones with financial disbursement incentives.
Despite initial delays in project effective-

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Part 3. Examples of MfDR in Sector Programs and Projects

ness, the calibration envisaged by the project still
seems appropriate, with some actions moving faster
and deeper than expected and others needing a bit
more time. Still, future operations will want to pay
close attention to institutional and political capacity
for reforms when attempting to calibrate a results-
based framework for disbursements and technical improvements
on a program. Although the program is
relatively young and the impact evaluation now underway,
some results are already apparent, including:

(a) measured efficiency gains, in terms of reduced
federal administrative costs due to the consolidation
from four programs to one; and (b) apparent positive
impacts on local economies, with the transfers generating
local economic activities (particularly in smaller,
poorer localities). In addition, evidence from evaluations
of the pre-reform programs reveal: (a) strong
targeting results (bottom quintile); (b) important educational
impacts of Bolsa Escola: (c) increased enrolment
and overall attainment; and (d) impacts of Bolsa
Alimentação on food consumption, diet, and child
For more information

Contact: Kathy Lindert, Sr. Economist, World Bank
Phone: +55-61-329-1000

MfDR Principles in Action: Sourcebook on Emerging Good Practices


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