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Actor file

Wayanad, August 2007

Uravu : a new initiative base on bamboo.

Bamboo based development initiative to counter ecological crisis and economic backwardness of the marginalised groups. This file presents a success story of a new initiative based on bamboo, Uravu, which has been in the forefront of field based research, lobbying for policy implementation, product experiments etc., for the past one decade aiming at propagating the values of sustainable development as the sole solution to ecological crisis and economic backwardness.

Keywords: India

Success stories of a sustainable development initiative based on bamboo.

A sustainable development initiative based on bamboo, Uravu, is making unique success stories in Kerala on areas like enhancing the natural resource base, upgrading local resource processing skills, introducing appropriate technologies, producing value-added products from local resources and marketing environment-friendly products and goods in various markets.

Uravu, a registered, not-for-profit trust located at Thrikkaipetta village in Wayanad district, Kerala state, South India has been in the forefront of field based research, lobbying for policy implementation, product experiments etc., for the past one decade aiming at propagating the values of sustainable development as the sole solution to ecological crisis and economic backwardness. ‘Uravu’ in Malayalam language means a spring, a source of streams and rivers, source of life and source of creativity.

The inception of Uravu was based on the fundamental notion that revitalization of indigenous knowledge and consistent scientific upgradation of the productive skills of rural people through appropriate technologies were necessary for rectifying many mistakes in the lopsided, dominant development pattern and striving for sustainability in development.

Uravu bases its developmental interventions on bamboo as a strategic raw material that provides multiple benefits to underprivileged rural areas and communities, especially, rural women and indigenous people. Bamboo holds the potential for significantly altering and greening the course and content of national and global development. From its inception, the activities of Uravu were interventions aimed at improving the lives of downtrodden social groups, the traditional rural artisans and the indigenous people, especially the women among them, in the hilly district of Wayanad.

Re-establishing the control of rural communities over natural resources, production technologies and market processes and bringing back these marginalized social groups to the mainstream of the society is a critical development challenge. It is also essential that any effort in this direction should be truly participatory and based on continuous upgradation of local knowledges, technologies and skills. It is with this vision that Uravu began its development interventions.

“We are indebted to Uravu for the unique services it is offering for us. Working on bamboo is a different experience compared to other ordinary labours. It enhances our creativity and provides us total work satisfaction. Our financial situation has positively improved after opting for this work and collaborating with Uravu especially in areas like product design and marketing.” Said Ms. Kavitha Benny of Niravu in Kalpetta North, one of the Micro Enterprises centers that are collaborating with Uravu.

Mr. Sivaraj, Director, Uravu explains the rationale of choosing bamboo as the raw-material for the sustainable development of village communities:

“Bamboo, the ‘green gold’, provides local solutions to several global challenges. It provides ecological security by conservation of forests through timber substitution, as an efficient carbon sink and as alternative to non-biodegradable and high energy-embodied materials such as plastic and metals. The livelihood security of the people is also taken care through generation of employment in planting, primary and secondary processing, construction, craft and the manufacture of several value added products. All parts of the bamboo plant can be used in rural livelihoods and industry - shoots for food, leaves for fodder and branches for making over a thousand traditional products as well as a host of new generation industrial products. Bamboo also provides shelter security through the provision of safe, secure, durable and affordable housing and community buildings. It provides pillars, walls, window frames, rafters, room separators, ceilings and roofs. Food security is guaranteed through bamboo-based agro-forestry systems, by maintaining the fertility of adjoining agricultural lands, and as a direct food source – example, edible bamboo shoots.”

Following are some of the programmes of Uravu which are functioning with the help of Government and non-government agencies.

  • 1. Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) project for Establishing Micro Enterprises in the Bamboo Sector.

  • 2. Bamboo Mission Training programme BMT-2005.

  • 3. Ambedkar Hast shilp Vikas Yojna (AHVY) project for establishing bamboo craft cluster in Thrikkaipetta village.

  • 4. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) assisted Project for Establishment of Mother Unit and Satellite Units for Development of Bamboo Craft and Products in Wayanad district, Kerala.

  • 5. CAPART assisted project trainings programmes for skill upgradation, product development and design development, employment and entrepreneurship development programmes, planting programmes for eco-restoration and bamboo resource base enhancement, Promoting sustainable eco-tourism, marketing green products and supporting rural farmers and producer groups.

Uravu was also selected among three organisations in the country with which the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has signed memoranda of cooperation through which these organisations get business building support as well as opportunities to display their products using the Exim Bank network in different parts of the world. Under the agreement, samples of Uravu’s signature product Script-O (a pen made from bamboo reeds and used widely as a gift item) has found its way to showcases at the International Finance Corporation office in Washington. The Exim-Bank official disclosed that Uravu pens would be displayed at the Bank’s branches in African countries, the United Kingdom, Budapest and Milan among others. The pens were already on display at the Mumbai office of the Exim Bank.