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Equator Initiative Case Study – Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program

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The Committee for People’s Rights (Podujana Himikam Kamituwa), a local NGO based in Kalutara District, southwestern Sri Lanka, has pioneered the reintroduction of rush and reed species to household paddy fields for processing into value-added handicraft products.
The Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program aims to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, to protect indigenous and traditional knowledge associated with traditional handicrafts, to conserve biodiversity and wetland ecosystems through a participatory approach, and to provide opportunities to the local population for alternative income-generation avenues. Since 1999, the initiative has provided training for more than 2,500 households in 11 districts in Sri Lanka; those involved in the program have seen average monthly household incomes double thanks to improved production techniques and marketing support. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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