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Strengthening and promoting of traditional craftmanship

In rural Bolivia, people practice family farming, but incomes from agricultural activities are often insufficient to cover families’ basic needs. Handcraft has been performed for generations, usually by women, as it provides them with a source of income complementary to agricultural activities, thus reducing their financial dependence on their husbands.

There are several handcraft associations in the country, which have decided to come together under a national network to strengthen and promote traditional rural craftmanship.

The activities of the OEPAIC Network

RED OEPAIC works along four strategic lines:

  • Policy: advocating for the recognition of traditional handcraft and a favourable legal framework for this sector
  • Economic development: promoting and facilitating members’ access to support services (production techniques, group purchasing of raw materials and marketing according to fair trade principles)
  • Institutional: developping the internal capacities of artisans’ organisations in order to improve their governance and management and their ability to be self-sufficient
  • Socio-cultural: improving the internal conditions of the organisations to ensure rights are respected and women’s skills are valued

OEPAIC & SOS Faim

In the past, SOS Faim has directly supported several member associations, but since 2008 our support has evolved towards the consolidation of the network.

This partnership allows us to :
- combine training, technical assistance and marketing services
- improve the legitimacy and recognition of the sector through advocacy actions
- take gender into account through self-esteem and leadership training for women

RED OEPAIC also plays an active role in the Bolivian Fair Trade Platform, in which it promotes the Small Producers' Symbol (SPP) label. Through RED OEPAIC, SOS Faim also supports this platform to improve the legal framework for Fair Trade and the recognition of the SPP label.

Encouraging Results

The OEPAIC Network has acquired significant legitimacy in recent years, and its advocacy work with public authorities has led to progress in the artisanal sector with the approval of the handicrafts law.

The organisation has become well established within the fair trade sector, while contributing to the approval of national guidelines on this subject.

Finally, it has created a collective brand called “Arte e Identidad”, which enabled the exportations of its members’ creations, and organises every year a fair of crafts of great renown.

What prospects ?

Despite these promising results, we need to ensure that the handicrafts law is put into practice.

There is still work to do at the legal level, in particular the implementation of departmental craftsmen’s committees and of a social security system for craftsmen.

Maintaining craftsmanship over generations also remains a challenge that the sector will have to face in the coming years.

RED OEPAIC will continue to support member associations in this direction, and intends to improve the supply and marketing of their products, in particular via the fair trade sector.

More information on RED OEPAIC

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