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ANT Adaptation

WAYAWAYA: Natural fibre extraction & peer-to-peer weaving training

Livingstone, Zambia

July – December 2021

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WAYAWAYA is a Zambian organisation and leather accessories brand centred around the core philosophy “by women, for women”. Female empowerment is the backbone of the organisation, which focuses on investment in long-term development of artisanal craft skills, culminating in meaningful job creation. Through expert tutelage by professional makers from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Norway, the team of female makers gain the confidence and technical know-how to create products that consistently encompass quality and design.

The aim of this project is to both diversify the income stream of the organisation and to develop a green, natural fibre that can be used to create woven products. The WAYAWAYA team are looking to develop a natural fibre from the banana plant which, after natural dying, will be used to make woven and non-woven textiles. 

The first phase of the project is extraction and retting of the fibre from the banana plant. This involves equipment and training for the artisan team to be able to extract the natural fibres. There are a variety of different methods to do this, ranging from manual and hand tools through to more industrial machine-based extraction. The aim of this project phase is to create an extraction method that is easy for the artisans to carry out and at the same time preserves the properties of the fibre.  

The second phase will be to create organic dye from natural resources surrounding Livingstone and Kazungula. This part of the project will involve research, training and implementation of the dying process, using sustainably sourced ingredients to do this. The aim is to acquire a better understanding of developing colour combinations inhouse that reflect the breath-taking landscape of Livingstone. 

The final phase of the project will be the development of different woven and non-woven textures using the natural fibres. The different sections of the banana stem have fibres that can be used to make a variety of textured materials. The project will result in an innovative new textile which has not been explored or used in Livingstone before. The project will link with a number of other organisations in Zambia and Zimbabwe that are weaving or currently working with banana fibre in some capacity.  

Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal (myprohelvetia.ch) by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.