Strengthening traditional activity to a sustainable livelihood option
Making dona-pattal (dishes) out of tree leaves is a common activity for several tribal villages in Madhya Pradesh. Women are often seen doing this activity which is not only eco-friendly but also a source of income generation for many families.
However, due to lack of standardization and improper planning, the activity fails to generate steady income. Moreover, it is a time-consuming activity and often contributes to women’s drudgery.
WOTR decided to convert this traditional skill into a sustainable source of livelihood in 24 villages of Kanha Pench Corridor of Madhya Pradesh. The team has been working with the National Rural Livelihood Mission to promote SHG formation in the villages.
Geeta, a member of the Adivasi Swayam Sahayata Samooh, an SHG formed by WOTR, said, “I had been making dona-pattal long before the SHG formation. But this activity needs a lot of precision. Often my eyes hurt due to the strain of long working hours and we could only make a few pairs of the product.”
To make this livelihood option more viable, WOTR supported the SHG to purchase a dona pattal manufacturing unit. While half of the expenses were borne by the project, the remaining was paid by the SHG. This instilled a better sense of ownership among women.
Setting up the manufacturing unit has significantly improved the production capacity. From manual production of 200-300 dona-pattals, now the capacity has risen to over 2000 pieces in a day! As a result, women of Adivasi Swayam Sahyata Samooh are now extremely confident to scale up their business and support their families.
Sulochna, another member of the group, said, “The process is now so much more comfortable. It is no more exhausting and we can produce much more quantity of dona and pattals. This year, our group has earned over Rs 20,000 as compared to Rs 4,000 last year.”
The group also rents out the machine to other SHGs as and when required. WOTR is now planning to implement this solution with other SHGs and facilitate linkages with the bank to promote a smooth loan process.
The project has opened a new path for the women of Zilapur village.