Fairtrade helps improve rights of farmers and workers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America

Fairtrade is committed to empowering smallholder producers and workers improve their livelihoods and contribute to through community development. Fairtrade Finland has partnered with Fairtrade Africa (FTA) and Fairtrade in Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) to implement a four –year long Development Cooperation Programme  (in Africa, the programme is known as “Dignity for All” (D4A) and in Caribbean and Latin America, it is called the “Finland Programme”) funded by the Finland Foreign Ministry. The programme partners organised a joint global review workshop to assess mid-term programme implementation progress which has so far reached a total of 104,540 direct beneficiaries two years after commencement.

The Global programme review meeting was held from 7th to 11th October 2019 at Haile Resort in Ziway, Ethiopia. The meeting was attended by a total of 22 participants from across the implementing countries. In Africa, the programme is implemented in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa, while in Latin America, it is implemented in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras. There was a review of the past achievements of the programme, accessing opportunities and new challenges, as well as reviewing plans for the remaining phase of the project. Cross learning and interaction among the different stakeholders enabled participants to identify best practices from each other’s projects.

The Finnish funded programme aims at ensuring a right to sustainable livelihood for producer households, a right to sustainable livelihood for worker households as well as ensuring fair and sustainable trading. The four year programme which begun in 2018 and is expected to end in 2021, has so far achieved remarkable impact in the area of advocating for workers’ rights, gender awareness and empowerment, climate change adaptation and social inclusion across Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

In addition to the workshop’s activities, participants visited D4A Coffee and Flower Projects at Fairtrade certified producer organisations such as Sidama Union, Herburg, Sher and AQ flower farms, all in Ziway, where there was in-depth engagement with right-holders regarding ongoing interventions in the programme’s focus areas. The participants also visited Fairtrade Premium projects including Sher Ethiopia elementary, primary and a secondary schools and an ultra-modern in and out patient hospital with Maternity and Specialist services.

Fairtrade helps improve rights of farmers and workers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America
Fairtrade helps improve rights of farmers and workers in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America

Promoting Workers’ Rights

In South Africa, D4A Programme focuses on promoting decent work within the wine sector, where more than 12,000 migrant workers have benefitted from different trainings and capacity building programmes organised by Fairtrade Africa. In Ghana, as part of efforts to address workers’ rights within the Banana sector, Fairtrade Africa has embarked on series of awareness creation and engagement with different stakeholders within the Banana Industry. More than 3,150 workers have benefitted from different trainings that focus on gender, sexual harassment and living wage negotiations. Fairtrade Africa has helped through partnership with Banana link, Fairtrade International and Trade Unions such as the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) and General Agricultural Workers’ Union of Ghana (GAWU) to promote the development and adoption of a Banana Occupational Health & Safety (BOHESI) Manual for workers in the Banana Industry. In Malawi, Fairtrade Africa works with key players within the tea sector to advocate for decent work for vulnerable persons within the sector, reaching a total of 6,400 direct beneficiaries including women and persons with disability.

Social inclusion and protection for vulnerable groups

Through the programme, Fairtrade Africa works in Ghana to promote social protection within the Cocoa value chain, with focus on helping to tackle child labour through a child right’s approach. Fairtrade Africa engages with different stakeholders within producer organisations, the educational sector and local authorities, to promote the importance of education for children in cocoa growing communities. Activities organised include the establishment of child parliaments in schools, capacity building for teachers and other awareness campaigns. The programme has so far reached 6,200 direct beneficiaries.

In Honduras, the programme through Fairtrade Latin America (CLAC) focuses on addressing issues of child labour within the coffee sector by capacity building and trainings. The programme also advocates for gender empowerment for women in coffee. So far the programme has impacted 3,420 direct beneficiaries as at end of 2018.

In Ethiopia, Fairtrade Africa helps to address issues of sustainable coffee production and works to promote gender awareness and living wage within the coffee sector. Fairtrade Africa through D4A Flowers Project has organised and implemented Gender awareness trainings through its Women School of Leadership modules that empower producer organisations on gender awareness and mainstreaming in the Flower sector. The programme has been effective in driving gender policies across the producer organisations. Participants of such trainings have also been empowered to contribute to social change by advocating for the rights of women in the workplace, at home, and in the communities they live in. Within the coffee sector, the programme through D4A Coffee Project has reached about 52,000 beneficiaries, whiles it reached 20,000 beneficiaries within the flowers sector.

Konst Mirktu is a woman farmer at Fairtrade-certified Sher Ethiopia Flower farm who benefited from the Women School of Leadership training. The training received helped Konst to advocate for development of a gender policy within her organisation. “The management and leadership training modules have helped me. I am cascading this knowledge to other workers who were not part of this training. As a member of the gender committee, together with my colleagues, we have been able to advocate for effective policies to ensure that female workers’ rights are respected, such as the push for 4 months maternity leave for female workers and having breastfeeding time at work”.

The programme also includes a disability inclusion framework as a cross-cutting focus area to advocate for the promotion of the right to decent work for persons living with disability. Gebewe Beyan is a 36 year old physically challenged Teacher at the SHER Kindergarten & Elementary School built by Sher Flower farm in Ethiopia, with funds from Fairtrade premium that the SHER Ethiopia Flower Farm, as a Fairtrade-certified producer organisation received. The school gives priority to orphans and vulnerable children and has 98% pass rate of all its 6,000 students. It is considered as one of the top ranking schools in the country.

Gebewe comes from a community which is about 5 km away from Sher Flower Farm and has been teaching Information Technology for the past 8 years, at the ICT Centre of the school, which has 30 computers. He studied ICT from the Ethiopian Public Service College. He is happy because the children respond well to him.  “I feel included and don’t feel discriminated against. As a result of access to decent work, I am able to provide for my family”, he said.

Addressing Climate change

In Guatemala, the Finland programme through Fairtrade Latin America (CLAC) works with Fairtrade certified honey producers to improve their capacity to adapt to climate change and also for public advocacy and engagement within Latin America Honey network. The programme has so far reached 1,319 direct beneficiaries. Under the Finland programme, there is also a Climate Change Exchange project, being conducted in countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia, that that aims to increase the recognition of small farmers as main actors in the climate change adaption process.

Promoting Finnish Development Cooperation for 2020 and beyond

At the end of the workshop, participants showed commitment to further leverage on the current successes of the programme to address broader issues of human rights for workers and vulnerable groups across the implementing countries. Monitoring and Evaluation of the programme has enabled the partners identify opportunities for growth and the promotion of a dignified life for all in support of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goals and Fairtrade’s vision of ‘ensuring a world where all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on the future’.

“We look forward to leveraging on the key learnings and achievements of the programme for implementation of the remaining two years and as we plan for the next phase of the programme” said Teemu Sokka, Fairtrade Finland representative for the programme.

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