UPLift--Poverty Alleviation For The Ultra-Poor

UPLift is a program designed to empower communities on the Thai/Burmese border that lack food security, opportunities for income, and education. Through the use of small grants and skills trainings, these families receive the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty without having to rely on external aid indefinitely.

Friday, March 6, 2015

UPLift 2014-2015 Annual report


The UPLift program is one of the Khom Loy Development Foundation (KLDF) Projects. It provides training for income generation, vegetable growing and animal rearing to the Burmese migrant schools and communities around Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border. It is designed to empower communities that lack food security, opportunities for income, and education. Through the use of small grants and skills training, these families receive the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty without having to rely on external help. 

The UPlift Program consists of six different projects:
  • Natural Farming School Garden Program (SG)
  • Natural Farming Pig Rearing (NFPR)
  • Natural Farming Chicken Rearing (NFCR)
  • Financial Literacy Training (FL)
  • Economic Development (SBD)
  • Community Development in Karan State (WVA)
In this past year, we had very good outcomes in the different projects. The following report describes UPLift’s activities in 2014 and upcoming activities for 2015.

Natural Farming School Garden Program (SG)
HWF students making bamboo raised garden beds

Elpis boarding students filling green leave into the bamboo raised beds


The Natural Farming School Garden Program focuses on improving nutrition for Burmese migrant schools and their accompanying student boarding houses in the Thai/Burmese border area of Mae Sot.The School Garden Program provides training in low-cost, organic methods of farming which have the ability to produce large amounts of nutritious vegetables in very small areas of land.  

These techniques include the use of raised garden beds that produce compost while gardening, cultivation of indigenous microorganisms (IMOs) as fertilizer, vertical gardening, construction of compost buildings, and seed saving. Since 2011, 15 Burmese migrant schools have participated on garden projects directly benefiting over 2000 students. During the 2014-15the school year, we have completed vegetable garden training and provided seeds and gardening equipment at 4 new Burmese migrant school gardens such as New Wave, Sophia, Elpis boarding house and Help Without Frontiers (HWF) Kitchen garden. 

Additionally, we have helped maintain gardens previously created for 8 schools in previous years such as Irrawaddy, Parami, HwayKaLoke, Minmahaw, Love and Care, ShweThaZin, Teacher Preparation Center, and Sky Blue. We would like to continue the Natural Farming School Garden Program in the future; we will continue to work with Migrant schools as well as some village schools in the Karen and Mon States in order to provide training and equipment for the creation of natural vegetable gardens. 

Natural Farming Pig Rearing (NFPR)

Some piglets and a sow from breeding programme enjoying green snack

TPC studetns learning and making Natural IMOs liquid

Natural Farming Pig Rearing treats Burmese communities, farmers and teachers as active participants in their own economic empowerment, rather than as passive recipients of aid. Its main focus is harvesting indigenous microorganisms (IMOs) by fermenting local materials with sugar, which results in increased lactic bacteria acid, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and amino acids.  These IMOs are then used as a major input in pig feed.  The most important input for reducing feed costs is fermented banana stalk, or FBS.

Using this diet, the cost of raising a weaned piglet from 1 and half months old to a market-ready weight of 60kg is approximately 1985bt, compared to a store-feed cost of 4180bt.
In order to extend the range of our training to include pig breeding, we have started a breeding programme, which also provides income to supplement the costs of Uplift’s operations. During 2014, a total of 6 piglets were born, and we plan to raise a total of 15 piglets in 2015.  The net income per piglet raised to maturity and sold is about 3000baht.

We provide training on cost-effective natural pig rearing to local organizations and Burmese student teachers who organically come from different areas in Burma. During 2014-2015, we trained 119 students from TPC and WH schools in addition to 140 students from previous years. We also trained a local NGO called Border Green Energy Team (BGET). In the future, UPLift would like to continue providing essential training on cost-effective natural pig rearing to the future students from TPC as well as some villages and community in the Karen and Mon states. 

Natural Farming Chicken Rearing (NFCR)

Irrawaddy students making fermented chicken feeds

Students collecting eggs from NFPR program

Arr Yone Oo students making FBS for chicken feeds

The Natural Farming Chicken Rearing Program (NFCRP)  focuses on schools and learning centers in the Mae Sot District, as well as rural schools situated in the Karen State of Myanmar. The aim of this program is to train schools how to develop and maintain low cost, natural farming methods of chicken rearing to reduce school feeding expenditures and improve nutrition.

We started a pilot project at Irrawaddy School in April 2014 and conducted a controlled study over the course of 3-6 months, testing the effectiveness of homemade fermented food recipes (different combinations of rice bran, fermented banana stalk, red dirt, sugar, dry cow manure, cracked rice and salt) compared to cracked corn store feed. The final recipe which we are using in the project going forward produces eggs for about 2 baht (6 US cents) compared to the usual store price of 4 baht.

After 6 months of research on low-cost laying hen rearing as a school and community project, we have started a program with new migrant schools during the second half of 2014 and into 2015. We have completed NFCR training andprovided chicken, chicken coops, feeding ingredients and equipment at 3 new schools (HwayKaLoke, Love and Care and ArrYoneOo schools). At these four schools, the projects directly benefiting over 800 students last year. For the upcoming years, UPLift would like to continue working with 3 migrant or village schools/ inside Burma, in order to provide low-cost, natural farming methods of chicken rearing that can reduce school feeding expenditures and improve nutrition. 

Financial Literacy Training (FL)
UPLift team delivering FL training at Hua Fai community, Mae Sot

WH students delivering FL community training

Financial Literacy Training focuses on migrant communities and temporary/slum communities in Mae Sot, along the Thai/Myanmar border. This training program is to enable Burmese migrant women manage their household finances better, and take charge of their own lives by providing critical knowledge needed for them.

During 2014-2015, we have given training to 80 women in the two different communities (Hua Fai and Ka Pi Ban). Additionally, we also gave “Train the Trainer” training to 24 WH students and 15 BGET students. Following the training course, these students will go back to their communities and deliver the same training. Among these 80 women we trained, 8 women have already initiated small businesses using plans they developed with UPlift staff (see below) and 50 women plan to follow their short-term saving plans to achieve their set goals. 

In 2015, UPLift will continue working with two migrant communities around Mae Sot to provide financial literacy training which can improve incomes and living standard. UPlift also looking for local organizations who are interested in the FL training inside Burma and would like to collaborate with them in the future. (We have identified a possible partner organization in Mawlamyine (Moulmein), Myanmar.)

Small Business Development program (SBD)

SBD member (Local Burmese Phone service)

SBD member sewing business

The UPlift Small Business Development program is aimed at migrant women who are living in Mae Sot, along Thai-Burma border. It aims to equip migrant women with small business resources the achieve financial empowerment and an improved standard of living.

In order to become eligible for the programme, women must first take our financial literacy training. Those who show initiative and come up with a business plan work with our staff to understand the details and necessities of what it would take to make their plans come to fruition. Together, we conduct market research, risk analysis, savings goals, book-keeping practice, and feasibility studies.

During 2014-15, we provided grant assistance and micro-loans (usually 50% of each) to 8 women who were able to set up their own small businesses. Later in the year, they each repaid the loans in full and became totally independent with their small businesses.

Examples of small businesses set up included traditional snack selling, a mobile phone service, selling household goods, snowy ice snack selling, and a sewing business. As a result of this success, UPLift will continue providing micro-loans and small business plans training for the future business members. We would like to do another round of 10 small businesses in 2015.

Community Development in Karen State (WVA)

Corns growing income generation project for school

Waterfall school in Karen State, Myanmar

The Community Development project in the Karen State mainly focuses on a Karen village school project and economic development for the villagers. The project began in 2014, in order to help a village primary school which has 57 children each year in the Waterfall village (Karen State), just across the Moei River from Thailand. Together with the village committee, the UPLift team came up with income generation idea which had a low risk and a high probability of success. The project idea chosen was to grow corn on 10 acres of land provided rent-free by a member of the village.

The village committee, which runs the project, proposes to use the net profit from corn growing to provide for village school running costs such as local teacher salaries, hygiene supplies and school stationary. The loan agreement between the WFV village committee and UPLift, provided that the 100% loan will be paid back interest free in equal installments over5 years. 
Before the corn harvesting process, KLDF also provided additional salaries for the local teachers. In December 2014, the corn was harvested and the school committee and village committee worked together for next school year income generation as well as paying back 20% of loan to KLDF. After receiving the profits, the village committee and KLDF staff divided 3 parts. (1) Capital setup cost for next round (2) 20% loan pay back to KLDF (3) Providing school running costs and teacher salaries. The village committee is now researching possible income generation project for this hot season. UPLift team closely working with the village and school committee for their future project. UPLift team has done conducting several surveys around ShweKoKo village in Karen State where there are similar village school opportunities which can be implemented in the future.