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.
Food security in Kenya: increasing quality of supply while developing demand
It’s hard to miss. Kenya is developing fast. The shiny new buildings and shopping malls in Nairobi are just one of the many manifestations of this. But not everybody enjoys the benefits to the same extent. While the demand for fruit and vegetables grows, smaller farmers are not able to meet the high demand from the supermarkets and are excluded from the formal market.
Exploring resilience for sustainable cocoa at Women in Cocoa and Chocolate Network event
Women in Cocoa and Chocolate Network (WINCC), established by Solidaridad, organized their fourth event in cooperation with the World Cocoa Foundation and The Hershey Company. The event brought together 70 women on 26 October in Hershey, Pennsylvania (USA), to explore the topic of building a resilient and sustainable cocoa sector.
Ethiopia approves new coffee initiative after political unrest
Solidaridad began implementing the Oromia Coffee Development Project in South Oromia this year after receiving approval from the recently stabilized local government. The project is funded by Comic Relief and aims to reach over 10,000 producers who can help contribute to a more sustainable coffee supply chain with a special focus on climate-smart practices, promoting diversification and gender.
Global partnerships essential for increasing uptake of sustainable cotton
The 2017 Sustainable Cotton Ranking report, developed by Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Solidaridad and WWF, was released last week. The report assesses the leading global cotton-using companies on their use of sustainable cotton.
Leading brands improve performance on sustainable cotton but many fall short
Leading international retailers C&A, H&M, M&S and Maxingvest (eg. Tchibo) have joined IKEA as "frontrunners" in 2017’s Sustainable Cotton Ranking, but overall, big brand progress on cotton sustainability is insufficient according to Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF.
International brands form partnership to combat child labour in Ugandan 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.