Solidaridad East and Central Africa operates in agricultural and mining supply chains and has successfully engaged with several players across these supply chains such as producers, government bureaus, the private sector and donor community.
The declining flow of foreign aid to the region from Western countries has exacerbated a paradigm shift in trade and development. As of 2015, inter-Africa trade is evident in East Africa Community (EAC) objectives; commodities in varying scales are crisscrossing the borders.
Similarly, Economic Partnership Agreements between East African countries and the West show how the region is positioning itself. Other similar agreements include Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with USA, Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) as well as India-Africa Trade Agreement. These development trends have awaken the commodity sector in the region and this enables Solidaridad to play its role in sustainable supply chains.
Population in the region is increasing, and the expanding middle class has changed consumption patterns. Noteworthy are the international supermarkets chains such as Carrefour establishing branches in the region. These changing consumption patterns across commodities are pegged on quality aspects, safety concerns and sustainable sourcing. Therefore, the strategic role of Solidaridad in engaging with commodity producers, processors and markets is clear.
The East and Central Africa region is dominated by challenges such as food insecurities induced by climate change, political and ethnic conflicts, social exclusion, population growth and shrinking land sizes. Climate change has altered the productivity of agricultural commodities and has exacerbated food insecurities across the volatile region.
Solidaridad recognizes and addresses food insecurity in all its projects while working with producer groups in line with the four strategic thematic areas: good practices, robust infrastructure, sustainable landscapes, and enabling Policy.
Similarly, all Solidaridad projects are designed to lessen the rampant problems associated with social exclusion across the region. Studies have shown women playing a greater role in agricultural production but they get little or no incomes out of agriculture. More women are currently joining producer cooperatives and some are taking leadership positions. Solidaridad will continue to support this trend.
Narrowing Gender Gap: The gender gap in coffee, tea, cotton and gold producing areas has narrowed with increasing numbers of women accessing productive assets and expanded financial bases. More effort is needed in putting women in leadership positions in the hundreds of producer cooperatives in the region.
Adoption of innovation: We have experienced increased adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices in the face of climate change by farmers. The use of innovative Management Information Systems by cooperatives which has eased payments and tracking of productivities is evident.
- Tea, Fruit & Vegetables
Engaging with stakeholders
Improvements in this sector are made possible by the Dutch Sustainable Economic Development Department (DDE). The DDE programmes bring together all stakeholders through a series of platforms to engage and drive producer-specific policy processes.
Increasing food security
Evaluation studies revealed the inadequacy of food in coffee producing households. To address this, Solidaridad and Nestle initiated a food security programme (FOSEK) targeting 70,000 and 50,000 farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia respectively.
Supporting a growing industry
Solidaridad has continuously contributed to the business case for sustainable cotton in Ethiopia. Organic Cotton (2015-2016) was the springboard which later transitioned into the Sustainable Cotton Initiative Ethiopia (2017-2018). Based on the lessons learned in the first two projects, Solidaridad developed the Better Mill Initiative (2017-2020).
Working with mining leaders
Solidaridad's gold team is currently implementing the Going for Gold project jointly with Simavi as the lead, in Tanzania where 2,400 artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) are targeted with good mining practices interventions. Similarly, the Fairtrade Gold Program is being implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda where Solidaridad works with mining associations.
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 vegetable 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.
One of Solidaridad’s key focuses for 2017 was creating an enabling policy environment in Uganda where all stakeholders in tea, fruit and vegetables are involved in policy discussions. In Tanzania, under the Golden Line project, Solidaridad engaged in advocacy initiatives where legal mining issues were discussed. Solidaridad also established strategic partnerships with private and public entities related to climate change, creating an enabling policy environment, impact investment, digital solutions and sustainable landscape innovations.
From Ethiopia to Zambia, and Kenya to the Congo, the rising temperatures and drought conditions, as well as political issues, posed significant risks to agriculture. A general decrease in quantities, qualities and prices of agricultural commodities was evident. Coffee, tea, fruits and vegetable farmers in the wetter highlands continued to adopt climate-resistant varieties with Solidaridad’s support. Solidaridad also continued to strengthen partnerships with research institutes in addressing climate-smart agriculture.
Solidaridad East & Central Africa made concerted efforts to explore new partnerships and funding opportunities. In early 2015, Solidaridad was awarded a pilot project by Ford Foundation and aBi Trust for fruits, vegetables and barley in Uganda. Solidaridad won a grant for a food security project from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Comic Relief gave a grant to Solidaridad for a food security project in Ethiopia. By the end of 2015, opportunities arose for policy influencing under Solidaridad’s new strategy.
Solidaridad East and Central Africa has expanded, creating further opportunities for growth. Strengthening staff capacity was a key priority in 2014, as was maintaining good relationships with donors. These improvements have helped us to continue running successful programmes, creating real change. In addition, new partnerships have given Solidaridad an opportunity to develop exciting new projects.
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