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
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.
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.
Jeroen Douglas is new executive director of Solidaridad Network
As of May 2019, Solidaridad has a new Executive Director. Jeroen Douglas takes over from Nico Roozen, who has led the organization for 33 years. Jeroen has a long history with Solidaridad and combines continuity with innovation.
Partnering up for progress: sourcing responsible gold in Uganda
Gold will never lose its allure. It’s useful, beautiful, rare, and an essential material for many different products. But many parts of the gold sector remain blighted by environmental destruction, conflict and human rights abuses. Currently, only a limited amount of small scale gold mines can meet standards as high as Fairtrade.
Fighting inequality and deforestation in the Congo Basin
The world is losing the battle to save the last tropical forests. Given the enormous carbon reserves and ecosystem services of these forests, it’s difficult to see how to avoid runaway climate change and ecosystem collapse without them.
Solidaridad releases mid-term review
Solidaridad has released the findings of the mid-term review of its Advocacy for Change and Practice for Change programmes. Alongside the review, Solidaridad shared its response to recommendations.
Climate-Smart Dairy in Africa: From Subsistence to Entrepreneurship
Solidaridad has developed a unique value chain approach to professionalize the dairy industry in Africa and avoid rising carbon emissions as a result of increasing dairy production. The business case for dairy farmers has been calculated in a recent feasibility study in Ethiopia and is currently being implemented in Tanzania.
Responsible Leather: The Need to Connect the Worlds of Beef and Leather
Friday 12 October, Solidaridad had the honour of giving the Opening & Welcome presentation at the First Global Forum on Responsible Leather in Kilkenny, Ireland. The forum was hosted by the Responsible Leather Round Table (RLRT), an initiative of Textile Exchange. The purpose of the forum was to address the impact of the entire leather value chain.