DIB's Indian project partners INSEDA and WAFD has been working on the eco-village concept in five villages in India since 2011. DIB, INSEDA and WAFD are currently working with partners from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal to spread the concept, thus reducing poverty and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Here you can meet Bimla Kothari, who is part of the project and has been a member of WAFD since 2012.
Bimla Kothari has been helped to install a solar dryer. It is made of bamboo and covered with pieces of plastic to facilitate the drying process. It doesn't look anything special, but it can be used for a lot, and it has meant a lot to Bimla Kothari's life. She uses it to dry turmeric and chilli, which she then makes into powder and uses in cooking. At the same time, the sun dryer allows her to preserve seasonal crops for later use. She also dries the local fruit 'chulu' and uses it to make chutney. The best thing about it is that it does not discolor what it dries, but retains the original colors of the turmeric and chili. At the same time, it requires no monitoring, she explains. "You just put the turmeric to dry in it, and then you look at it a few days later." Bimla Kothari says that there are several benefits to the sun dryer. It keeps spices and vegetables free of dust and dirt. It is much better than drying it outdoors, as she has traditionally done.
The sun dryer has enabled Bimla Kothari to produce high quality products at no extra cost - and these are products that are always used in Indian cuisine. She has even sold some of her products which so far have given her an extra income of 4000 rupees. (400 kr.). That may not sound like much, but with the extra money she can now afford to buy extra food and supplies. It has not been possible for her to grow cereals and legumes because of the threats of monkeys and a changing climate, so that is one of the things she spends her money on. Previously, she had to take small loans from local lenders or neighbors, but now it is no longer necessary. Each month she puts aside 100 rupees, which are deposited into the self-help group's bank account. Here, the self-help group members can borrow if they need it. Bimla Kothari could, for example borrow 15,000 rupees from the group when her daughter got married in November 2016.
Bimla Kothari, and others who are part of the eco-village project, have been given the opportunity to learn new methods that can maximize the yield of their gardens. Not only did Bimla Kothari get support for making a sun drier, but she also made an organic compost basket in collaboration with WAFD and learned how to make and preserve pickles, chutney and juice. The eco-village project is a success seen with Bimla Kothari's eyes. In the future, she can produce long-lasting spices and sell them out ,so she could earn something extra.
Read more about DIB's eco-village project here.