East & Central Africa 2018

In 2018, Solidaridad East and Central Africa promoted best practices and sustainability to ensure sector transformation through our textile, leather, coffee, gold, dairy, tea, fruits and vegetables programmes. We focused on food security, gender inclusivity, ICT, climate innovations, investment in viable businesses for impact creation,-and working with producers and industries. We engaged governments, financial institutions and markets in creating robust infrastructures, that resulted in effective production and working environments. The formation of the Kenya Coffee Platform, coordination of sustainable landscapes multi-stakeholder platforms and the advocacy work to establish a sustainable Tea Policy in Uganda were highlights of our regional public-private sector engagements.

The regional coffee programme supported interventions on good practices and robust infrastructure. We linked farmers in Kenya to Equity Bank so they could access financing for farm inputs. We promoted diversified farming systems to enhance food security, nutrition and household incomes. At policy influencing level, we spearheaded the formation of the Kenya Coffee Platform to mobilize the wide spectrum of Kenya coffee sector actors towards collection action for the sustainability of the sector and to facilitate robust public-private dialogue.

We are working in dairy in 3 projects – Food for All, FOSEK and Dairy 2025. Through the ‘Food for All’ project we established, together with our partners and the county governments, five dairy hubs in Kenya to support milk aggregation. We recorded a 42% increase in milk production in comparison to 2017. In Tanzania, we started the Dairy 2025 project, to increase milk production in Tanga region by professionalising dairy farming.

We are working in fruits and vegetables across the region – Food for All (Kenya), FOSEK (Kenya/Ethiopia), and EPE and the ‘Improved Resilience through Sustainable Production’ project in Uganda. Together with the Uganda National Steering Committee, we organized multi-stakeholder dialogue meetings on food safety and nutrition. This increased our partners’ capacity to drive food safety as a national agenda. We finalized a road map for the commodity-specific interest groups, curriculum development and food safety practice pilots.

We undertook an economic, social and governance assessment of the mines participating in our gold projects to identify capacity gaps. The results allowed us to design mine improvement plans. One mine in Kenya received mining equipment thanks to our partnership with Impact Facility, and others will benefit in 2019 after they close the gaps identified. We participated in various national and regional conferences to advocate for sustainable and inclusive mining.

In Ethiopia, our Green Tanning Initiative set the pace for sustainable environmental, social and economic production practices along the leather value chain. The adoption of innovative leather processing practices sets the Ethiopian leather industry on an eco-friendly, gender-inclusive trajectory. These practices allow the industry to reduce the amount of tannery waste, along with reducing water, chemical and energy consumption. They also lead to sustainable employment and supplying high-quality market products.

With our support, Better Mill Initiative factories developed Effluent Treatment Plans to purify waste water. They also adopted secondary treatment of wastewaters in line with new government directives. We maintained our efforts to ensure equitable, healthy, safe and satisfactory work environments in factory-settings, and championed meaningful quality job opportunities for all.


Intensifying agriculture through the adoption of innovative approaches, and streamlining the manufacturing and mining sectors, contributed to economic growth across the region in 2018. 

The adverse effects of extreme weather in Kenya, and geopolitical unrests in Ethiopia did, however, negatively impact the regional agricultural sector, resulting in reduced productivity.

Solidaridad East and Central Africa promoted climate-smart agriculture strategies to mitigate against climate variation challenges. Our coffee, dairy, fruits and vegetables projects were assessed against their climate resilience and adaptation. Those that scored highly were identified and marked as climate innovation pilots. By propagating climate-smart interventions, we built communities’ and agricultural products’ climate resilience. We supported interactive learning around sustainable production practices among farmers, miners and general workers with visual aids and demonstration plots.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda experienced relative socio-political stability. However, several parts of Ethiopia were affected by political unrest and as a result we noted project implementation delays. In spite of the challenges, we maintained good working relations with project partners due to our sustained presence and dialogue with local communities.

An expansion of telecommunication networks and local communities’ increased ownership of smartphones revolutionized farmers’ and market’ interactions. To tap into available opportunities, improve outreach and promote knowledge sharing, we developed and piloted the Farming Solution App and Weather App for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


We mitigated socio-economic and environmental constraints to improve productivity and sustainable livelihoods by establishing five dairy hubs in Kenya. The hubs support milk aggregation and provide extension services to farmers. We trained 13,541 dairy farmers in good agricultural practices, leading to a 42% increase in milk aggregation. This translates to an impressive 9,972,754 litres of milk (valued at 384,975 euros), which supported the improvement in food security and incomes.

In Ethiopia, our Better Mill Initiative’s promotion of best practices led to a reduction in water usage in three factories. This allowed resources to be conserved, reducing industrial effluent, while increasing textile and garment production volumes. We raised awareness among gold mining communities in Kenya and Uganda about the abolition of child labour, women economic empowerment and promoted the adoption of safe mining alternatives to replace the use of mercury.

In Kenya, we piloted financing arrangements between local banks and coffee estate farmers to meet their input requirements for the 2018/19 crop period, with the aim of enhancing productivity. In Ethiopia, we facilitated matchmaking opportunities between producers and markets to improve marketability of Ethiopian textile products both regionally and internationally. In Uganda, working with Kayonza Tea Factory we managed to secure impact investment from UNDP and OIKO Credit to support expansion activities.

Our advocacy efforts in Uganda led to inclusive and interactive dialogue between sector players and our continued support to government is bridging the gap to finalise the tea policy for the sustainability of the tea sector. In Tanzania, our advocacy efforts left an indelible mark across the vast Kilimanjaro landscapes achieved by addressing conservation and human-wildlife conflicts, through multi-stakeholder platforms and knowledge sharing.


In 2018, Solidaridad East and Central Africa welcomed Rachel Wanyoike as managing director after the retirement of her predecessor – Karugu Macharia. To ensure successful project implementation, we recruited 13 new staff in various capacities including human resources management, communications regional project implementation, and project field officers. The organization experienced a staff turn-over of five that slightly affected the organization’s full-time equivalent (FTE) count.

Two staff were promoted to strategic positions of country manager, Ethiopia, and head of programmes. One staff member rose through the ranks to the position of project officer, while another relocated to Europe to take on Solidaridad Network corporate partnership responsibilities. Through outside recruitment and internal staff movements, we increased the number of FTEs to successfully implement new projects that required dedicated expertise. The new staff also supported the organization’s quality functions.

We provided staff learning and training opportunities both at individual and group levels. Staff participated in national, regional and international learning sessions on food and nutrition security, climate smart agriculture, gender inclusivity, impact investment in dynamic economies, climate financing to enhance productivity and profitability, digital farming, and promotion of Fairtrade practices. Staff participation in knowledge creation and information sharing events contributed to the expansion of the organization’s regional expertise and knowledge base. Despite the economic and political challenges faced in 2018, Solidaridad East and Central Africa maintained all its country offices.


Solidaridad East Africa has legal entities in four countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. The last entity, Solidaridad Kenya, holds the legal seat of the Continental Supervisory Board that supervises the three expertise centres on the continent. The own-contracted income of Solidaridad East Africa stayed between 1m and 3m euros during the seven years from 2011 to 2018. The region spent a relatively large portion of funds that were contracted by other regional expertise centres, thus not building capacity for contracting own funding in the region. This will be changed under the leadership of the new managing director who came on board at the end of 2018. For more details, please check also the full financial statements of Solidaridad East and Central Africa. 


In 2018, Solidaridad worked with 17 government agencies and 171 private companies. One of our three most significant partners were Equity Bank, Kenya. Through a pilot programme they offered loans worth 9,884 euros to 40 coffee estate farmers. In 2019 and 2020, we aim to introduce this facility to more farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Secondly, we partnered with Tanzania’s National Land Use Planning Commission under the Sustainable Lands Innovation Project to offer land-use planning. Three villages have already been surveyed, allowing the identification of high potential wildlife conservation areas, farm lands and grazing fields, demarcated to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. In 2019, we intend to strengthen this partnership, positioning it to tap into opportunities related to sustainable land planning and management. Thirdly, we responded to a request by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to produce a business plan for Kayonza Growers Tea Factory at Mpungu in Uganda and link the factory to investors. We supported Kayonza Tea in enriching its business case and preparing it for investment. We connected Kayonza Tea to OIKO Credit, an investment partner that is currently undertaking due diligence with a view of investing 3.2 million dollars by mid-2019. Upon the launch of the project we will introduce aspects of gender inclusivity to address concerns raised by UNDP. Solidaridad also started a new partnership in 2018 with Achmea Foundation to boost milk productivity in Tanzania, and with the National Designated Authority of Kenya to the Green Climate Fund to access climate finance.


We worked with local media (both print and electronic) to cover our multi-stakeholder engagements addressing policy reviews and formulation, and project launches, among other activities. These stories were shared in the local media and published on partner organizations’ websites, and other new media channels. In addition, we published several stories on the Solidaridad East and Central Africa website, covering project launches, project activities and multi-stakeholder engagements across the region.

Awareness of Solidaridad is growing in the region thanks to our various engagements with national and regional governments to lobby for progressive, enabling environments. For example, former managing director Karugu Macharia held the position of co-chair at the Kenya Coffee Platform, a chapter of the Global Coffee Platform. In this forum he interacted with public and private coffee sector actors at a national and regional level. This helped to raise the brand value and visibility of Solidaridad. We also stood out as a key development partner through our efforts in taking an innovative, sustainable approach to dealing with sector productivity challenges. This is seen through the launch of innovative projects such as the Green Tanning Initiative in Ethiopia, pioneering tomato grafting technology in Uganda, and being a technical committee member of the Kenya Coffee Platform. We also convened and participated in events with like-minded development partners to offer solutions to existing challenges, such as maintaining a close relationship with Rainforest Alliance/UTZ and AgriProFocus.