Haldipada Bamboo Works is an initiative of AIACA supported by Oracle since April 2016, which aims to empower a community of 110 rural and marginalized bamboo artisans through economic and social development.
Haldipada village is one of the poorest and most isolated Dalit artisans' villages in the Balasore district of Odisha. The skill of weaving locally available bamboo for making utility baskets from thinly spliced bamboo strips for daily household use existed locally, but was not a source of income. The villagers mostly worked as labourers in menial jobs. Adding to their plight wassevere marginalization and the lack of education, infrastructure, and decent livelihood opportunities contributing to the poverty cycle. However, this community had the potential of enjoying sustained and dignified livelihood from bamboo crafts through upskilling, community organizing, design innovation, introduction of tools and technology and direct market linkages.
Our initiative led to organizing of the artisans into Self Help Groups, strengthening of their technical and business skills, design innovation and product diversification, introduction of new tools, and direct linkages to diverse markets including exhibitions and orders. A brand identity by the name of “Haldipada Bamboo Works” has also been established and promoted to enhance direct market linkages.
A total 7 Self Help Groups (SHG) have been formed and trained in SHG management. Bank accounts have been opened for all the SHGs so that they can develop the habit of saving.
Today the artisans earn their livelihood from production of diverse bamboo products; their income is currently three times more than what they used to earn before; they have started supplying to export buyers; they have dignity in their work and have the aspiration to reach out to national level buyers with their bamboo work.
Moreover, these bamboo weavers have also recently received the formal recognition of “artisans” through the Artisan ID cards. AIACA had sent their applications about more than two years ago and since then there has been a continuous follow up and policy advocacy to recognize these Dalit bamboo weavers under the category of Bamboo artisans. This recognition has added to the dignity and inclusion of this cluster further.
In the long run, our aim is to ensure their right to an adequate standard of living as full and equal members of society, and to enable them to overcome marginalization.