Solar-Powered Mask Production Centre by the Urmul Desert Crafts | Stories of Resilience

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The Urmul Trust, which began its activities in 1986 was focused on the provision of health and education support to village level milk societies. In 2015, SELCO Foundation partnered with the Urmul Trust to provide solar-powered back-up solutions to run sewing machines, lights and other basic energy services in their center in Bajju.

With the onset of the COVID 19 crisis, the need for masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) has skyrocketed. Often rural communities are the last to access PPE owing to the high demand in urban centers, which directly affects the health and well-being of medical staff, police and government workers and the local community in these areas.

Production of Masks

To meet the needs of masks in the local area, the center, with the help of 20 village artisans, has produced 20,000 reusable cotton masks so far. Basic training was provided to those involved in stitching, packaging and delivery of masks to ensure strict sanitation and hygiene guidelines are adhered to. For artisans working at home, including young women who have completed schooling but are awaiting job opportunities, raw materials are provided by the center. As mentioned above, the main production unit in Bajju is powered by solar energy which has not only reduced the cost for production but also facilitated a reliable power supply for round-the-clock production.

Safety and Sales

The unit also ensures following the safety mandates of social distancing and sanitisation during production as advised by government and health officials. Raw materials such as cloth (procured by UDC as part of regular business and elastic procured from Delhi and Bikaner prior to the lockdown) are delivered by an individual from the center to each household-based artisan. Masks to doctors, nurses, field staff, and village government institutions are sold on a nonprofit basis, while covering the labour costs of artisans and others involved in the production. The team is also working with government institutions and ensuring prompt delivery. Supply to members of SHGs, producer groups and artisans who are part of the UDC network is free.

Other related Initiatives

Beyond Bajju, UDC has provided assistance in the Pokhran region of Jaisalmer as well. As part of the HDFC Bank Parivartan’s Holistic Rural Development Program, Marugandha Project, 119 women versatile in craft techniques have decided to invest their skills in manufacturing face masks. With Support from UDC’s. artisans over 10,000 cloth masks were delivered between March 27th to 31st in the project focused areas i.e 14 villages across 5 Gram Panchayats of Pokhran region.

We have self-isolated inside the Urmul campus/ center in Bajju. Urmul has helped me and thousands of artisans in the region with a source of livelihood. Today, we have the opportunity to give back to the community, so we are helping the team to produce these masks and contribute our bit. It makes me really happy that we are serving our community in these times.

We have self-isolated inside the Urmul campus/center in Bajju. Urmul has helped me and thousands of artisans in the region with a source of livelihood. Today, we have the opportunity to give back to the community, so we are helping the team to produce these masks and contribute our bit. It makes me really happy that we are serving our community in these times.

Manoj Kanwar, Artisan at Urmul Desert Craft Tweet

Key Takeaways

The strategy to diversify product lines and move into the production of masks has ensured that artisans continue to have a source of livelihood during the crisis, while meeting a basic health and sanitary need. As the market for other products slowly begin to pick up in about 3-4 months, the production of masks in the interim can ensure an income source for the center.

The existing networks of Urmul Trust and Urmul Desert Craft have provided a strong foundation to continue activities within the center and through artisans. The availability of raw materials, solar powered back-up solutions for lighting and sewing machines, the existing production lines for collection of finished products from artisans, linkages with government and health institutions as a market and so on help ensure a continuity in supply and demand.

Financial Contribution

Bank Transfer

Domestic (India) and International

Direct Online Transfer

Domestic (India)

Direct Online Transfer

International

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