Location: India, states of Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh
Technical partners: LEDEG, LEHO, LNP, ECOSPHERE/STAG, SKARCHEN and BORDA
Financial partners: European Commission, Ensemble Foundation, Lord Michelham of Hellingly Foundation
The states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu-Kashmir, situated in the Western Indian Himalayas, are barren valleys at an altitude of more than 3,000 m, populated by remote villages. This cold desert has a long, harsh winter, low rainfall and scarce biomass. As a result, natural resource potential is very limited. In these villages, there is a need for further development of the few existing craft activities to ensure family survival.
Resources are traditionally processed by women for family use. This work can now offer these women an opportunity to generate additional income. Although individual women cannot access potential markets, they can, since links within these village communities are very strong, join together in self-help groups, which make them feel more confident and competent to approach customers, whether traders or tourists.
Since 2005, a project conducted with support from GERES has endeavoured to develop new income sources and raise women's status. Since 2008, work has been under way to consolidate the activities begun in 2005 with 500 women in 40 self-help groups. The work consists of processing natural resources and selling the products on the tourist or local markets.
Positive results can already be seen: productive activity has enabled 550 women to increase their status within the household. They sell the products of processing apricots and buckthorn berries into juice, jam and dried fruit and processing wool. The project will now focus on training in accounts and consolidating the links between the various women's groups and the local authorities.