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SimplyHealthy@Communities Project in Ximeng County, Yunnan

Source:Humana People to People ChinaDate:2014-05-06 00:00:00Click:359

Project Background

The ‘Ximeng Wa minority Autonomous County’ (hereafter abbreviated as ‘Ximeng’) is located in the north-western corner of Pu’er city, Yunnan Province. Ximeng borders Myanmar and the majority population is the Wa ethnic minority. The total population is 87,911, 83% of which are engaged in agriculture as a primary source of income. Ethnic minorities make up 94% of the total population of which 72% belongs to the Wa minority while the remainder is made up of 24 other minorities, including the Lahu and the Dai minority. Ximeng County is in the southern part of the Nushan mountains. The local geography is complex; aside from Mengsuo township’s 3,000 mu river valley dam, the rest of the county is entirely mountainous. Ximeng is one of the 592 national poverty counties and currently listed among the poorest counties in China. Farmers’ primary source of income comes from agriculture and animal husbandry.

Through a baseline survey conducted 2011 in Bannong Village in Ximeng, we found:
  75% of students never or hardly ate breakfast
  93% of students didn’t eat breakfast due to poverty, or due to boarding school not providing breakfast
 14% of the 205 students were healthy
  75% of students exceeded mild anemia
  33% of the students were underweight

Project Initiation

“SimplyHealthy@Communities” Community Nutrition Intervention Project is one of the initiatives funded by Philips China’s CSR department. Implementation of the project has been carried out by HPPC since 2011 June.

The project takes place in and around the ‘Philips Hope School’ in Bannong village of Ximeng, with the integrated aim of sustainably improving child nutrition and developing soy bean production in the village to increase local incomes. The project also provided extra-curricular activities for students, health and nutrition workshops for parents and villagers, and cleaning activities for the whole community. These activities mobilize everyone in the community- parents, teachers, and villagers - to create a healthy environment beneficial for children’s growth.

Project Activities

1. Nutritious Breakfast --- 1 egg + 1 cup of soymilk

To improve the nutritional status of the children lies at the core of the project. According to the project design, every day the students of the Philips Hope School are provided with a nutritious breakfast consisting of 1 egg and 1 cup of soy milk to improve their overall nutritional condition. At the end of the year the students undergo a health checkup organized by the project team for measuring the impact and results of the project intervention. The health checkup results at the end of 2013 showed the percentage of students with mild anemia (Hemoglobin lower than 120g/l) dropped from 40.3 %( 2012) to 5.39 %( 2013). When our project just began, the proportion of students with mild cases of anemia was as high as 79%.

The nutritional breakfast not only improved the health of the students, it also made additional positive impacts: teachers report that the students are able to concentrate more during class. The incidence of students taking sick leave or skipping class is also significantly reduced. The students wish that one day they will be able to eat eggs at home too.

A student collecting her egg

Students queuing up to collect their egg and soy milk

2. Pig breeding generates income to sustain the purchasing of eggs

A small scale pig breeding business was set up in an empty space behind the school, and through sales of piglets and pork shall generate income to purchase eggs for the students, ensuring that the nutritious breakfast program will have a sustainable source of support.
It was the first time that the “fermentation bed” technology for pig raising was introduced to Ximeng County. The construction of the fermentation bed pig pen attracted many villagers to see first-hand this new technology which they have only previously seen on television. The villagers hope that this technology can be further promoted in the village as it makes the pig raising activity more efficient and easier to manage, saving on labour and water usage. The pig breeding agribusiness is rejuvenated and making new progress after the introduction of the fermentation bed technology.

Constructing the fermentation bed

Piglets being raised in the fermentation bed pig pen

3. Organic soybean planting sustains the provision of healthy soymilk to students

The project team introduced new soy bean seeds to the farmers, the seeds are distributed to each household. When the farmers harvest the soy beans, 10% of the output is given to the project team. This supply of soybeans is then used to make soy milk for the students.

In order to provide wholly healthy soymilk, our project team instructed farmers to avoid the use of pesticides. All the participating farmers agreed to abide by this rule.

A villager drying the harvested soy beans under the sun

4. Extracurricular Activities

The project organized movie screenings at the schools. The students and teachers enjoyed this activity very much.

A movie screening

Prior to the project intervention, the school had no intervals between classes for the students to exercise and stretch a little. The school eventually decided to use two dances choreographed by the project team’s dance group to be used as an interval exercise session between classes. The students learned the sign language dance “A heart filled with gratitude” and another dance “I believe”.

Students dancing along to the music

5. Lifeskills trainings and visits to the students’ homes

The project provides trainings for teachers, students and villagers as a way of enabling all project participants to achieve capacity building throughout the project period and ultimately ensuring the long-term sustainable development of the project.

The training for teachers and villagers focus on the topics of: disease prevention, safety precautions to be taken during the rainy season, nutrition and health, the dangers of alcoholism.
The project team makes regular visits to the students’ homes, they then collect information on various health and nutrition issues faced by the households and designs future trainings based on the practical day to day realities and issues encountered by villagers. For instance when they discovered that alcoholism was a common issue in a village, they would organize a thematic training for villagers to raise awareness of the dangers of alcoholism.

During a training session

6. Improve the health and hygiene condition of the village – building garbage pools
With the support of the project team, three garbage pools were constructed in two natural villages by October 2013. The garbage pools benefited Nanmo group and four other groups, covering a total of 76 households with 312 people.

Nanmo group is a unit under Bannong village committee. The group unit has 49 households with 152 people. Every day a large amount of domestic waste is generated, and for a long time there was no established system for waste treatment. Villagers used to throw rubbish on the streets, not only polluting the environment but also being a source of visual pollution and health hazard. After the project team organized the garbage pools to be built, the villager would throw rubbish into the garbage pools. Two weeks later when the project team visited the village, they found that villagers would no longer littered; everyone uses the garbage pools to dispose of waste. Some people would collect plastic and glass bottles from the garbage pool to recycle and reuse.

Garbage pool

7. Beautification of the village – organizing collective clean-up initiative

In order to improve the village environment and raise everyone’s awareness of public hygiene, the project team mobilized students to join in the “Campus Beautification” action, while simultaneously encouraging villagers to join efforts in a “Village Cleanup” initiative.

Village cleanup initiative

Project Updates

1. Encouraging results from Ximeng Community Nutrition Intervention Program!