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 Partnerships Agreements between East African countries and the West shows 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
The textile industry in Ethiopia has been growing and gaining support from government and development partners. Under the Better Mill Initiative programme, Solidaridad has partnered with textile mill factories, global brands such as H&M, and the Ethiopian government.
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.
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.
International brands form partnership to combat child labour in Ugandan gold mines
Leading market players Philips, Fairphone, UNICEF, Fairtrade and Stop Child Labour have entered into a partnership with Solidaridad for a two-year programme that aims to combat child labour in small-scale Ugandan gold mines. Establishing child labour-free zones and promoting more environmentally friendly and human-friendly ways of extracting gold could significantly improve the sector.
Blog: From aid to investment with climate and migration as drivers
Solidaridad has always strived to be at the forefront of sustainability innovations. But the world is changing quickly and needs new approaches that also address growing challenges like climate change and migration. Solidaridad is again adapting its programmes for a future where investments are quickly becoming an effective and lasting contributor to positive impact.
International brands join pilot initiative for sustainable cotton
Solidaridad launched a new pilot initiative in cotton with H&M, Kanoria Textiles and the Ethiopian Cotton Association this year to promote sustainable cotton production in Ethiopia. The pilot was based on a sustainable cotton study conducted by Solidaridad in 2016, commissioned by H&M and the Dutch government.
Solidaridad celebrates first year of sustainable development in Ethiopia
Solidaridad staff and experts are celebrating a year of growth and sustainable development in Ethiopia since the opening of the new country office in 2016. The new office allows Solidaridad to expand its activities in Ethiopia in growing sectors and to explore new opportunities where long-lasting positive change can truly make a difference.
Kenya coffee industry endorses the "Sauti ya Kahawa" platform
Leading Kenyan coffee industry players have overwhelmingly endorsed the formation of the Kenya Coffee Platform, aptly named "Sauti ya Kahawa" in Swahili. This inclusive initiative aims to bring together all the major links of the coffee supply chain to discuss and implement a wide range of initiatives for the Kenyan coffee sector.
Solidaridad launches new approaches for sustainability in 2016
During a turbulent year with many changes in the geopolitical sphere, Solidaridad and its partners united to improve the livelihoods of close to 700,000 producers working on around one million hectares of land.