For the quake-hit communities in Indonesia’s North Lombok, the COVID-19 pandemic has given them a rare business opportunity to revive their livelihoods through sustainable fashion with eco-prints,
Using leaves and natural dye techniques, a group of nine women in Genggelang village has been producing eco-prints materials to be sold and marketed at shops in North Lombok and beyond. The eco-prints initiative was introduced after the women produced 7,000 masks in response to the pandemic.
The nine women of Nina Genem, as the group is called, was among dozens of community groups who have received support under UNDP’s livelihood and reconstruction PETRA project. With funding from German development bank KfW, the Project aims to support communities in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, following the 2018 quakes and tsunami.
“Eco-print is our way of life now” said Mayani, the leader of the Nina Genem group adding “(the Project) has helped us recover our livelihoods after the earthquake”
UNDP works with a local community group called PALUMA who facilitated the women to form the Nina Genem sewing group. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the region, the group produced around 7,000 masks which were sent to the North Lombok COVID- 19 Task Force.
In the months since the group produced masks, they were introduced to the eco-print technique, involving the use of leaf patterns on cloth. The group has since produced various fashion items including tejong (traditional cloth), masks and headscarves. They also received business support from PALUMA with a detailed marketing plan to the local government
“When we first started working with the group, I noticed they were shy. Over time, they developed confidence in their abilities and have now been empowered to voice their opinions to the government too,” said Ummi Azizah, program manager PALUMA.
And the North Lombok government has taken notice. The Regional Development Planning Board has ordered 67 eco-print fabrics and regional leaders have used eco-print fabrics during their recent Development Planning Meeting.
“Eco-print products are very creative. We are committed to supporting women's groups to be more resilient” said Yuni Kurniati, secretary of the North Lombok Regional Development Agency.
To build sustainability in their business, the women were taught comprehensive know-how on small businesses.
“We meet twice a month, discussing opportunities and product marketing. We continue to innovate according to market trends” Mayani said.
By using natural dyes with zero industrial waste, the women have also made meaningful contribution to protect their surrounding environment.
Their modest success has triggered interest from other women’s groups. A local cadre has facilitated eco-print training involving 12 women participants in other villages. It is hoped that the group can continue to develop their products and inspire other women to be empowered and rebuild their livelihood.
Groups like Nina Genem reveal the importance of empowering women to build socio-economic resilience and to help communities returning to normalcy after a disaster. The eco-prints initiative also helps maintaining the balance between humanity and nature, as we work towards building forward better.
UNDP’s Programme for Earthquake and Tsunami Infrastructure Reconstruction Assistance (PETRA) project is implemented by UNDP with financial support from the Federal Republic of Germany through its development bank, KfW.
Text: Wigatiningsih and Zaenudin
Photos: Dandi Rahman
Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose