Our Interventions

Avani / Our Interventions

Social Enterprise Meets Social Empowerment

Avani has always laid an emphasis on promoting local people, skills and resources to help build this rural enterprise that has benefitted more than 2200 artisans and farmers since its inception. The purpose was to enable and empower socially vulnerable women and young girls by fostering within them a sense of self-reliance and dignity. Inclusive in its foundation, Avani has successfully brought together the different village communities in Kumaon Himalayas, thus weaving together a social fabric that even breaks past the locally accepted boundaries of gender, class and caste. Together with the local community, Avani has made interventions to create income generation opportunities through its energy, textile and education programs.

Adopting a decentralised approach, Avani’s programs function through five village based field centres and multiple women’s self help groups. Our village-based field centres initially functioned through locally rented spaces. Today these centres that enable the continuous engagement with the local community, despite it being spread out so vastly, are located in beautiful working spaces constructed with eco-sensitive architectural innovations and with locally available materials.


Avani has focused more on conservation than distribution, keeping the environment as its core. This meant becoming more self-reliant with help of local resources. Avani endeavours to make technology and livelihoods an integral part of living, being and celebrating life in these beautiful mountain ranges. In order to realise this dream, Avani has been initiating projects that work towards revival of traditional crafts  of hand spinning and hand weaving, developing and disseminating appropriate technologies and farm based activities.


Avani produces high quality, hand woven textiles in natural dyes and natural fibres through the producer owned cooperative, Earthcraft. Locally available dye yielding plants are used for extraction of dyes and pigments for textiles and non-toxic crayons, water colours and printing pastes. The cultivation and collection of dye plants and plant based soaps, provides farmers with a reliable source of income. Avani’s emphasis on conservation and judicious use of natural resources has led to reclamation of wastelands and regeneration of forests.

Organic Harvests and Sustainable Practices to Generate Income All Year Long

Hill agriculture does not provide food security for the entire year. Lack of viable income opportunities combined with low yielding agriculture continues to compel people from these mountainous regions to migrate to urban centres in search of employment. Women and old people continue to remain the majority residents of these villages. The income generation interventions led by Avani work towards improving the quality of life of those who remain in the villages.

Avani is working with the cultivation and harvesting of dye yielding plants as a livelihood option. The local farming communities are engaged in the systematic cultivation of certain dye yielding plants such as turmeric and indigo, which they then sell to Avani for the production of natural dyes. In addition to cultivation, collection and selling of plants and plant parts such as marigold flowers, walnut and pomegranate peels, myrobolan and eupatorium, a local and invasive species of grass also yields the communities supplementary income.

Likewise, the pine needle gasifier plants require the collection of pine needles that is carried out by the local women when they visit the forests to graze their animals. The pine needles are in turn bought by Avani for their use in the power plants. 

Activities such as the farming of dye yielding plants and collection of pine needles is less labour and time-intensive and not affected by wildlife, leaving the farmers with time and energy to invest in other activities to augment their incomes. These activities simultaneously also promote the protection of forests and preservation of local natural resources, a crucial advantage in these precarious times of climate change.

Responsible, Renewable Rainwater Harvesting

While the annual rainfall in this region can average between 2000 to 2500 mm, water scarcity remains a major problem for many villages communities in the high altitude regions. Pine needles cover the forest floor during dry summer months causing rainwater to run down the hill slopes before it percolates into the soil. Forest fires caused during the summers by fallen pine needles cause deforestation. The perennial water springs fall victim to this deforestation impeding all attempts to harvest water from these springs during the spring and summer months. Harvesting rainwater responsibly involves storing water running off from rooftops and can provide much-needed fresh water to families throughout the year.

Avani has endeavoured to introduce these types of water management techniques at its campus in Tripuradevi as well at all its village centres. All the buildings at Avani campus have tanks in the basement where harvested rainwater is stored. A storage of almost 670,000 litres of rainwater at the campus alone meets our water needs for more than half the year.

The same method of harvesting rainwater is employed at the field centres in Sukna, Dharamgarh, Digoli and Chankana, where together another 127,000 litres of water is harvested. Avani has also helped set up a similar water harvesting system in nine schools in the Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts, harvesting another 270,000 litres of water.

In addition to rainwater harvesting, Avani has built a wastewater treatment system, where all the water consumed on the campus is recycled through a series of anaerobic and aerobic treatment to obtain good quality water for irrigating the community kitchen garden.