AVANI is a voluntary organization working in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, located in the middle ranges of the Central Himalayan region. It was in 1997 that AVANI started its journey as the Kumaon Chapter of The Social Work and Research Center, also known as the Barefoot College. The Barefoot College focuses on capacity building of rural communities, enabling them to make sustainable and capable contributions to society. In November 1999, AVANI was formally registered, continuing the work initiated in 1997.
The genesis of AVANI came about in the context of the isolation and consequent problems of the far-flung villages situated in one of the highest mountain ranges of the world. Nature, as it obtains in this region, warrants search for local specific solutions to the problems. In our interaction with people regarding the problematic, our accent has been focused on conservation rather than distribution; more on self reliance than outside dependence. Our endeavor has been of making technology and livelihoods contiguous within the household, an integral part of living, being and celebrating life in these beautiful mountain ranges.
In order to realize this dream, we initiated work on developing and disseminating appropriate technologies for meeting the energy and water requirements of the local villages, promoting craft-based (development of handmade naturally dyed textiles) and farm based livelihood opportunities. To date AVANI projects include the dissemination of solar technology, water resource management, natural textiles and paints, and the social and economic development of rural communities with projects such as healthcare and micro-finance.
AVANI is also a founder member of the World Mountain Peoples’ Association, which strives to develop solutions to development problems, influence policies in favor of the mountain communities and bring them together on a common platform.