Myanmar is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. In 2018, it ranked 148th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index. The 2015 elections marked a historic milestone in the country’s political and economic transition. The democratically elected government took office with a huge popular mandate.
Although some sectors have undertaken important reforms, the level of poverty remains very high: 67% of workers live on $2 a day. Rural areas, remote border regions, mainly populated by ethnic minority groups, as well as territories where migrants and internally displaced populations live are particularly affected by poverty. One of the consequences of conflict and violence in Myanmar, including the Karen conflict, described as the world’s longest-running conflict or the most recent Rohingya crisis, is the displacement of more than 660,000 people within and outside the country.
The education sector is underdeveloped and unable to provide the necessary manpower in terms of both quantity and quality. As a result, the majority of people entering the labour market lack qualifications, affecting both the productivity and competitiveness of industry and society as a whole in terms of underemployment and poverty.
Furthermore, gender inequality and women’s exposure to violence, harassment, and abuse are not only critical risks but also a major obstacle to national development and peacebuilding. For the vision of a modern, developed and democratic Myanmar to become a reality, it is essential that women and girls have full access to education, training, and economic opportunities and that their leadership capacities are strengthened to enable them to participate in general decision-making.
Myanmar’s poorest people face a variety of complex challenges. It would be a mistake to address only the issue of income! Partial aid, addressing only one cause of poverty, is not a sufficient solution to overcome it.
Therefore, our Economic and Community Development FXBVillage model, initiated in 1991, allows us to provide, in three years, a complete response to the fundamental causes of poverty by simultaneously acting on its predominant factors. It is also about fighting gender discrimination and balancing gender relations so that women, who are more exposed to poverty, have access to the same economic and social opportunities.
1 – Develop the socio-economic capacities of families
- Establishment of Saving, Credit and Support Groups to provide services to beneficiary families who do not have access to formal financial services. The Saving, Credit and Support Groups help create social bonds, provide space to share challenges and solutions and foster participants’ entrepreneurial spirit
- Comprehensive training in financial management and entrepreneurship.
- Donation of $150 in seed capital to each family in order to launch an economic activity in the field of their choice.
- Accompaniment of families to develop, diversify and ensure the sustainability of their economic activities.
2 – Ensure their food security and improve their access to health care and disease prevention.
- Emergency nutritional support is given to families during the first nine months of the programme to help them regain a satisfactory state of health.
- Creation of individual vegetable gardens for the production of fruit and vegetables for the families’ own consumption.
- Care for children under 5 years of age and pregnant or nursing women suffering from malnutrition.
- Access to comprehensive health care services and training of families and the community in health management and family dietetics, sexual and reproductive health and the prevention of endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, including by facilitating screening.
- Psychosocial support to help families deal with the consequences of the various forms of violence encountered.
3 – Provide schooling for children, vocational training for adolescents and young adults, and community capacity building.
- Collaboration with schools and teachers to enable school-aged children and young adults to be (re)enrolled in school.
- Training, according to aspirations, in the trades of clothing, hospitality, wood and bamboo, sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry, through the FXB Itinerant Vocational Training Units.
- Organization of social development and capacity building activities through participatory theatre (Human Drama) in order to help raise awareness of different social or health issues.
4 – Improve their living conditions
- Sanitation and equipping homes with solar lighting, improved cooking stoves, latrines, showers, and hand-washing stations.
- Training in recycling, personal and family hygiene, water and sanitation (WASH).
5 – Build the resilience of women and girls by strengthening their leadership skills and self-confidence
- Exchanges and training on women’s and children’s rights, gender-based violence, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, human trafficking, access to justice or civic education and peace promotion to help motivate and empower women.