Women’s Bamboo Handicraft Opening Ceremony in Shan

By Nyi Nyi Lwin & Claire Burgess

On May 16, the opening ceremony of the Women-focused Bamboo Handicraft Training was held in Kyaung Nar Monastery, Let Maung Gwe Village Tract, Nyaung Shwe. Over 35 young women and government officials attended the activity organized by Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development (MIID). U Thet Naing Oo, the Deputy Director of Small and Medium Enterprises Department of Shan State government was pleased to welcome the female attendees. He encouraged their participation in this training to improve incomes and well-being.

Participant Daw Khine Htwe age 24 from Kyaung Taung Village said she is “very interested to create the bamboo crafts and make some money. I have already seen benefits from those who participated in previous bamboo trainings with MIID”. Since 2014, MIID has been implementing the ICIMOD funded Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation Project - Himalica - which aims to increase community resilience including diversifying livelihoods such as supporting off-farm value chain linkages. Only a few miles from Inle Lake, the cluster of six villages straddling Let Maung Gwe and Bawnin Village Tracts face several livelihood challenges, notably economic isolation and erosion of agricultural land.

Bamboo is highly suitable for generating off-farm income as it is locally accessible, and can be transformed into high demand products. Since 2016, MIID has trained dozens of villagers on crafting, and worked with them to establish market linkages directly with wholesalers in Yangon, Bagan, NPT, Mandalay, Taunggyi and Naung Shwe. Project staff will continue to support these women bamboo makers after the 15-day training to produce competitive items by training them on business skills and assisting in marketing, packaging and transporting the goods. MIID Agronomist and Field Coordinator Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin stated the training was tailored to the livelihood needs of the women in the villages based on community consultation and lessons from previous bamboo training.

The high value bamboo products taught during these two weeks require delicate carving skills to make ornate weavings and patterns for decorative photo frames, clocks, lampshades, tissue boxes and coasters. The women are started off with MIID provided crafting tools and materials to make their first batch of products. The crafting training is the first step, with business guidance and through working together they will achieve a new source of income, produced during their limited spare time without leaving their villages.

May 31, 2017