Rural artisans living in the most difficult, inhabitable regions of the Thar Desert for years have been creating authentic and intricate handmade products. Across the world, many people who value this work and their makers, unfortunately have little or no direct connection with them. This gives the opportunity to revive this drowning ecosystem. Together with Urmul Desert Crafts (UDC), we are bringing the rural artisans, organizations working with them, and the customers together on the same platform. This is an attempt to open a new door to the lives and crafts of the rural artisans who are living in isolated regions in hamlets and small villages amidst the harsh realities of Thar.
A chain cannot serve its purpose if even one of its links is weak or broken. Connecting the urban economy and the rural economy requires a very strong link- one that understands challenges of rural living conditions and withstands pressures of urban consumer expectations. Social and economic environments continue to affect the artisan’s eco-system and livelihood possibilities. Currently, there are huge gaps in the process due to lack of education and infrastructure, difficult weather conditions, geographical challenges, and social structure.
For close to three years now, DRC has been working as the technical agency to Urmul Desert Craft working with the artisans in the Thar region. Our work with the team as well as artisans has gone far beyond business or skill training or sourcing orders for their work. We are working to bring the market to the artisans and not the other way around. Hand-holding the artisan through this journey and continuously working to provide a sustainable and dignified source of livelihood to the communities, with innovation and sustainability at core.
Weaving Traditions with Technology and Innovation
DRC’s role in the field of Crafts
- With convergence support from Selco Foundation, we transformed the key manufacturing unit of UDC in Bajju on solar power; all the production centres now are using efficient equipment while producing solar power themselves. Five craft centers, each used by 60-70 women, are constructed in the crafts villages with low-cost sustainable material and built techniques. These architecturally improved centers consume less energy and provide thermal comfort in extreme temperatures. Thereby increasing productivity.
- The knowledge team at DRC has constantly been supporting the crafts team with knowledge and communication support. This includes development of organisational reports, marketing materials, specialised photo and video documentation of all the interventions.
- Alongside, we constantly provide technical support to the crafts team for development and management of their organisational website, providing e-commerce solutions, building organisational convergence, etc.
- Following the principles of zero waste production, DRC has designed a circular usage model unit for crafts in the desert that produces zero waste and maximises the resources.
- We have ideated, designed and developed a full scale natural dyeing unit to promote use of natural colors on fabric and ensuring sustainability in crafts. DRC devised the implementation strategy of the program, planned various community mobilization workshops in different villages that need to be organised before kick-starting the project and finalised the specific locations where it should reach. The intervention involved developing an infrastructural unit for training, research and experimentation of the craft technique. The building is being constructed using built environment initiatives.
- The DRC technology team is designing and developing the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for management of orders, stock and smooth operationalisation of the crafts unit.