FXB works in China since 2006 towards lifting vulnerable families out of poverty and reducing gender discrimination.
ContextFXB China operates programs in Bu Tuo, a remote and mountainous county in Liangshan-Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province. The province is one of the largest and poorest in China, with almost half of the population living on less than $2 a day. It has a population of 140,000 people, 95% of whom are of Yi ethnicity. With one in five residents living in extreme poverty, it has a growing population and an illiteracy rate of almost 75%. The Yi community suffers from malnutrition, deplorable hygiene conditions and a high disparity between men and women. Yi people have their own language and have great difficulty communicating in Mandarin – both orally and in writing. Poverty and economic inequality of minority groups are widely recognized issues. They have resulted in the marginalization of Yi development as well as more social problems in the local community, such as drug use, alcoholism, illiteracy and domestic violence. In addition, people have little respect for education, which results in low school attendance, especially for girls. With early marriage, early maternity and the weight of tradition, women are often the only breadwinner in the family. Most of time illiterate, they have never received any training and have no special skills to increase their incomes, and consequently their quality of life.
FXB in action
Lifting vulnerable families out of povertyFollowing a pragmatic and effective poverty alleviation methodology initiated by FXB in 1991, the FXBVillage model, the organisation supports 400 people from the YI community living in extreme poverty on their way to economic and social autonomy in simultaneously addressing five predominant factors of extreme poverty. This integrated approach includes access to food security, adequate health services and disease prevention, education, safe housing and sanitation, and a regular source of income through the creation of micro-enterprises. The newly created income generating activities allow gradually families to get enough income to cope with their daily needs and to be delivered from the other drivers of poverty. Through the delivery of essential services, FXB ensures that families are thriving and children reach their full potential. In order to create lasting and comprehensive impacts, FXB organizes life skills development sessions for direct participants as well as for people in surrounding communities. Many topics are discussed, including family planning, environmental protection, hygiene, health, HIV /AIDS and other diseases prevention, violence, women and children’s rights, among others.
FXB has already developed 9 VillageFXB programs in Bu Tuo, serving 3,600 direct beneficiaries and 7,500 indirect beneficiaries.
- The programs were awarded the prize of “Special Contribution and Implication in the Development of the Community of Yi in China” by the National Central University of Research of Yi Culture and the Social Protection Foundation in China.
- UNICEF and the Beijing Institute for Information and Control evaluated these programs in 2008 and highlighted significant increases in household income and assets, a 25 percent reduction in household debt and significant improvements in children’s health, education levels and emotional well-being. Among enrolled children who lost both parents, emotional and psychosocial status improved six-fold since enrollment in the program.
Women Empowerment : reducing gender discrimination
Fighting against poverty also means fighting against gender-based discrimination and balancing relations between men and women. It is essential that women – who are more likely to live in poverty and often have sole responsibility for the care of children – can access the same economic and social opportunities. FXB promotes women’s empowerment and gender equality as key factors to fight poverty.
FXB China therefore conducts theoretical and practical education programs to build the capacity of vulnerable Yi women and their children:
- General knowledge: basic oral and written Mandarin, use of a telephone, learn to read the time, knowledge in metrology and economic skills, ranging from family budget management to financial inclusion.
- Professional knowledge: in the fields of sewing, weaving and embroidery, vegetable gardening and vegetable conservation.
- Life skills: women’s and children’s rights, alcohol and drug prevention, domestic burnings which are day to day accidents, prevention of domestic violence in all its forms, natural disaster risk reduction, nutrition and global hygiene.
- Child Education: this program also aims to increase the school attendance rate. Former beneficiaries are inviting to testify how important education is in the life of people and how all children can best benefit from education.
- Early childhood development: as critical brain development processes take place in the first three years, the brain is especially vulnerable during this time to stressors such as violence and neglect. Thus, children who experience stress are more likely to have learning difficulties and behavioural problems later in life. Parents are therefore trained in the different stages of the child’s development, the needs of each stage and the detection of children’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Children Life skills: FXB has developed an “I am Who” manual that has been recognized as a best practice by UNICEF China. The general idea of this activity is to fight stigma by reconstructing the imagination of children through the writing of their story. Its impact on the psychological state of children was assessed very positively by the Bei Jing Institute of Information and Control in 2009.
FXB is registered as a local CBO under the name of “Bu Tuo Eyas Association” and works in partnership with local branches of the Chinese Women’s Federation, which serves women and children in communities across China.