The inception phase of the cocoa and oil palm programmes under CORIP II and SWAPP II were completed in July. The funder, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, accepted the inception report on the programmes and renewed funding of the two programmes until December 2021.
Solidaridad collaborated with INNOHUB, a business accelerator and impact investment platform, to develop an accelerator for SMEs in the mining sector. Solidaridad trained 27 Golden Line project stakeholders in gender equality and women’s rights in small-scale mining. We also participated in policy engagement with the Multi-sectoral Mining Integrated Project in gender, capacity building and re-categorization of mines in Ghana. We were active in mine advocacy at key national and regional platforms in West Africa throughout the year.
Over 100 agricultural extension agents from oil palm growing areas received training in best management practices under a partnership with Proforest as part of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020. To both intensify sustainable production of oil palm and reduce carbon footprints, Solidaridad explored efficient stoves for cooking fresh fruit bunches of oil palm at four artisanal mills in Ghana. These cooking stoves have high calorific contents and minimise negative externalities and promoting users’ health and safety.
The significant drop in the global cocoa price since 2017 continues to adversely affect household revenues of farmers as well as the governments’ total agricultural foreign exchange earnings in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the sector regulator has restricted cocoa productivity enhancement programmes to avoid further increases in total production. This move has limited the implementation of the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II) in the country. The original programme design was therefore adjusted without changing the significant intervention logic of developing, promoting and making SMEs bankable for investments to drive the provision of services to producers. Solidaridad is in consultations with donors to get approval for implementing the adjusted CORIP II programme in the face of Cote d’Ivoire’s new policy directive.
In Ghana, the ban on small-scale mining continued until the last quarter of 2018. Solidaridad’s intervention had to be re-focused on lobbying, advocacy and holding national stakeholder dialogues that facilitated the revision of the ban as well as promoting gender-responsive policies in the small-scale artisanal mining sector.
The security situation in northern Nigeria remained a concern for many donors. Consequently, some of the donors have diverted their investment from the country. The Dutch government, however, renewed its interest in providing development assistance to Nigeria, creating an opportunity for Solidaridad to revive its activities in the country.
In contrast, Liberia and Sierra Leone saw improved development assistance from the donor community. The shift in development cooperation from ‘aid to trade’ and investment has been embraced at several high-level political discussions. In Ghana, the middle income status of the country resulted in less direct development cooperation financing.
In Liberia, Solidaridad provided a new opportunity for farmer communities to raise 600,000 hybrid cocoa seedlings under the EU-funded LISCIP programme. Over 380,000 seedlings were planted on 450 hectares of newly established farms.
Over 17,300 locals received basic training in climate change and sustainable land use practices under the World Bank-funded Dedicated Grant Mechanism project.
The youth in cocoa programme in Ghana motivated over 3,000 youth to return to cocoa farming and related businesses.
In Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, Solidaridad profiled over 13,000 smallholders to facilitate their access to capital from six SMEs. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, Solidaridad set up 20 SMEs to enhance farmers’ access to services and support for their farm businesses in partnership with private companies and farmer associations.
In Ghana, 27 traditional rulers, the staff of five government institutions and 91 farmers were trained to engage and influence policy at the grassroots and national levels through dialogue.
In Sierra Leone, Solidaridad facilitated the reduction of a land lease concession from 31,000 hectares to 2,320 hectares in favour of small farmers through a multi-stakeholder process. This group of stakeholders also piloted the use of Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forest and Fisheries tools for efficient land governance while improving women’s use of any legal rights to land.
Solidaridad’s global gold programme made significant contributions in advocacy and the development of a new five-year policy framework in Ghana to promote sustainable practices in the mining sector.
Gender inclusivity and training received Solidaridad’s dedicated attention in West Africa. In Ghana, for example, more women (52%) participated in climate interventions than men (48%). Hundreds of such women have benefited from Village Savings and Loans schemes.
Solidaridad jointly established the Ghana chapter of the Women in Cocoa and Chocolate Network in partnership with Ghana regulatory agency, COCOBOD.
Solidaridad West Africa grew from almost zero in 2011 to 15.2 million euros contracted in the region in 2018, representing 27% of the total income of Solidaridad Network. The own-contracted income almost doubled from 2017 to 2018 as a result of the signing of grant contracts with the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Swiss Embassy and the European Union for cocoa and oil palm programs. Income from private sector companies also increased by 81% from 2017 to 1.5 million euros in 2018. This is largely due to the strong relationship the regional centre has with Mondelez in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. Solidaridad West Africa has legal entities in five countries: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Twenty-five newly recruited staff brought Solidaridad’s total workforce to 148, at a gender ratio of 30 females to 118 males. The new expertise augmented departments such as Human Resource, and Programmes and Finance.
Concerned about the huge gender disparity, Solidaridad’s regional management team is keen to bridge the gap by mainstreaming gender awareness, improving diversity and promoting inclusion in its operations. Five employees exited voluntarily with one termination.
Four staff received an appointment to the Regional Management Team, bringing the membership to a total of nine to deepen Solidaridad’s regional leadership as it grows to embrace new challenges.
Solidaridad also received seven student interns in Ghana and 11 in Sierra Leone; the first of its kind in Sierra Leone.
A region-wide review of the current HR organizational model, strategy, policies, systems and processes in West Africa was conducted to enable the delivery of business strategy and business operating models across the region in line with Solidaridad’s global policies. An integrated conceptual framework was developed to guide steps and actions during the entire process. The holistic exercise revealed gaps in relation to the flow of people, the flow of work, the flow of information and flow of performance in the organization. Solutions identified are to be deployed in 2019.
Solidaridad envisions expanding activities in the current operational countries (Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria) and extend interventions to other countries within the sub-region. This ambition calls for establishing a robust, strategic and systematic fundraising approach.
COMMUNICATION AND CAMPAIGNING
Solidaridad West Africa was active in pursuing communication activities aimed at increasing corporate visibility and promoting public engagement around Solidaridad’s programmes and results.
Through exhibitions, videos, web promotions and direct engagement with development partners and government representatives, the team in West Africa profiled Solidaridad’s contributions to climate response at the COP24 event held in Poland in December 2018. An online campaign, which preceded this global event, highlighted Solidaridad’s work in transforming farmers’ livelihood and landscapes through climate-smart interventions.
The regional social media platforms experienced growth in audience engagement, as illustrated by increases in followers, likes and retweets on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This boosted the regional online presence and provided opportunities to reach Solidaridad’s unique audiences in the region with tailored information, including news and information about the impact of Solidaridad’s work in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Solidaridad also developed tools including project briefs, newsletters, infographics and monthly news bulletins to communicate progress and results of various programmes and projects to external and internal audiences.
Furthermore, Solidaridad West Africa forged a more integrated regional communications approach by training staff to appreciate their role in effective communication and visibility within the region. Through the training, the Solidaridad brand is clearer to staff and they feel more aligned and empowered to act as brand ambassadors.
In 2018, Solidaridad worked with 23 government agencies and nine upstream private companies in West Africa across the cocoa, gold and oil palm supply chains.
In Ghana, Solidaridad signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ghana Cocoa Board to promote a sustainable cocoa sector from 2018 to 2020. This relationship facilitated the establishment and launch of the Women in Cocoa and Chocolate Network in Ghana – an initiative that received the support of several government and non-governmental agencies as well as the private sector during its launch.
Solidaridad also collaborated with Alliance for Responsible Mining to develop the code of risk mitigation for artisanal small-scale mining and the CRAFT. This tool will support the promotion of sustainable mining in small-scale mines after its successful pilot.
In Sierra Leone, Solidaridad worked with the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), which pledged greater collaboration with Solidaridad via a memorandum of understanding. Through this partnership, SLARI will support the Sierra Leone country office in conducting research on tree crops.
Tradelink Inc. will also support Solidaridad in establishing Centres for Cocoa Development and demonstration sites for the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme funded by the EU and implemented by regional experts from Solidaridad.
The official and full audited annual accounts for Solidaridad West Africa can be downloaded here.