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Craft

Camel Dung
Atelier

A seed initiative to recycle camel waste, stimulate creative collaboration and produce high-quality paper products of beauty.

Years
2020-2021
Location
Qatar
Photo by
Caravane Earth

Before desert communities were faced with the post-industrial reality of today’s world, camel dung was used in a variety of ways. However, currently most of it finds its way to landfills, or at best powerplants to be used as biofuel.

In 2019, Caravane developed a plan to initiate the first contemporary production of camel-dung paper in Qatar by collaborating with Mahima Mehra and her team of artisans at Haathi Chaap. In 2020, we worked with JBA and Partner to tailor our business model and feasibility plan to the local market. Our aim is to attract seed funding, launch production and support the growth of this niche industry that transforms what is widely considered waste into high-quality artisan products.

“Entrepreneurs can work anywhere in the world, do anything, but with green entrepreneurship it makes a lot of difference what raw materials you use, which effluents you create…”

— Mahima Mehra

For generations, the Raikas of Rajasthan have bred and raised camels, developing an intimate knowledge of their needs and their many gifts. Over the years, these resourceful people have managed to establish a beautiful high-end brand which produces delicate camel-milk soaps and camel-hair shawls. And now they produce paper from camel dung.

We arrived at Camel Charisma one early summer morning in 2017, where a welcoming team of Raikas showed us their production facility—a simple, stone pool, a mixer blending pulp, one modest shack with craftsmen and women drying and cutting paper and a terrace where a young man was stamping postcards, envelopes and notebooks. After spending several days with Camel Charisma, the idea to spread this method across camel communities of the world was planted in our minds.

In 2019, we met with Dr. Ilse Kohler-Rollefson to discuss the possibility of seeding camel dung recycling initiatives in the Gulf. For professional guidance, she referred us to Mahima Mehra— a pioneer in elephant dung recycling in India who had shared her knowledge with the Raikas.

Thus started a journey of the most unusual kind...people have looked at us and our elephant dung paper with amusement, disgust, interest and mild irritation... For us, the journey has been so fascinating that I will never look at poo the same way again!

— Mahima Mehra

In a tiny factory in New Delhi, Mahima’s team of artisans produce tea boxes for Japanese and English brands.They make bags, frames, board games, notebooks, stationary and more. Mahima joined our team in October 2020 to help us establish the first camel dung recycling atelier in Qatar.

We plan to launch an atelier outside Doha and equip it with simple tools. The Atelier will collect camel dung from across Qatar, process it with cotton waste into pulp and produce paper. The Atelier will be operated by several craftsmen and women who are efficient with water and energy use. Caravane will collaborate with local artists and the special-needs community to design and produce postcards, envelopes and interior design elements.

The purpose of this undertaking is to raise awareness about waste and cultivate advanced skills in producing positive social, cultural, ecological and economic impact. Starting from small scale production, we hope to spread this beautiful practice across Qatar and beyond.

Team

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Mahima Mehra
Consultant
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Mahima Mehra
Consultant

Partners

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Camel Charisma
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Haathi Chaap
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JBA and Partner

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