Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Two-thirds of the population lack access to health care services, water and sanitation, as well as adequate nutrition, particularly in the rural areas. In the rural town of Machacamarca, located in the State of Oruro, environmental conditions exacerbate hardships. High altitude, low temperatures and lack of fertile land hamper subsistence farming and, in the absence of other sources of income, jeopardize individuals’ ability to survive.
Launched in 1998, the FXB Women’s project was designed to improve the quality of life of women in Machacamarca through a comprehensive community-based program that addressed the needs of destitute families and the community as a whole. The project:
- Developed agricultural income-generating activities (IGAs) at the family level, particularly through poultry-breeding, to increase household income and provide food.
- Provided appropriate technologies such as greenhouses to overcome environmental obstacles and facilitate the production of vegetables for personal consumption and commercial purposes.
- Created a communal bakery that encouraged community mobilization and solidarity.
- Organized capacity–building to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary to run IGAs in a sustainable, efficient manner.
- Trained beneficiaries in small business management and marketing to help them optimize their ventures.
- Organized training and information sessions to raise awareness on health-related issues such as reproductive health, hygiene, nutrition, environmental protection and community development.
Established in a participatory manner that promotes local ownership, the FXB Women’s project is entirely led by the community. The women have been empowered to become self-sufficient and take control of their lives.