The UN World Water Day has been held on 22 March every year since 1993. It seeks to call attention to the importance of this resource and to raise awareness of the fact that water is a fundamental human right. The devastating consequences of water shortages or floods can currently be seen in many countries in Africa. The droughts or floods caused by the weather phenomenon El Nino have completely destroyed the crops in many places. As a direct result, an estimated 45 million people in Africa are at risk. Zimbabwe has already declared a state of emergency, making it all the more important to do something for the people who are affected. The Aid by Trade Foundation has been committed to this aim since 2015 in tandem with partners OTTO Austria, Welthungerhilfe and DEG with funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Devel-opment (BMZ). In a show of solidarity, the partners are joining forces to fight for clean drinking water and proper sanitation in the areas in which CmiA cotton is grown in rural Zimbabwe.
Aims pursued by the project
There are 780 million people in the world who do not have access to clean drinking water. 2.5 billion people do not have proper sanitation. The Aid by Trade Foundation is taking action in response to this situation with its part-ners. The water and sanitation project was launched in March 2015 - with the aim of providing 20 schools in the cotton growing region of Gokwe South and the surrounding villages with access to clean water and hygienic sanitary facilities. The people in the Gokwe South district are affected to an above-average extent by an inadequate water supply and poor sanitation in that only 61 percent have access to clean water. Adequate sanitary installations are available to only 18 percent of the population.
It is important to raise the awareness of the people and to equip them to take responsibility in order to ensure that the communities can benefit from the investment in the long term. Over the course of the project, therefore, the goal is to sustain or establish 20 water committees which will be respon-sible for the management and maintenance of the wells. A gender-sensitive sanitary infrastructure will also be introduced or improved at 20 schools, and 20 school health clubs will promote good health and hygiene practices in the towns and villages in future.
Why the water supply and sanitation facilities play such an important role
An analysis of the situation - referred to as the baseline assessment - in the project region of Gokwe South in Zimbabwe illustrates clearly why it is so important to start with the water supply and sanitation in order to help the local people:
• Two thirds of the households surveyed have less than 100 USD per month at their disposal (with an average of six persons per house-hold), putting them below the poverty line.
• 34% of the households are reliant upon water from unprotected sources.
• An average distance of 1.7 km is covered every day in order to fetch water. For 10% of the households, however, the necessary distance is 3 km.
• The time taken to fetch water averages out at 60 minutes per day. In rural Africa it usually falls to the girls and women to fetch water for their families.
• 50.3% of the households surveyed do not have any sanitary facilities and have to use the bushes.
• 86.2% of the households have nowhere to wash their hands.
• Only 8.5% of the households have access to running water to wash their hands.
• Half of the schools surveyed use water from unprotected sources.
• In many cases the pupils need to take their own water with them or fetch water in the breaks.
According to the United Nations, the majority of illnesses in developing countries can be ascribed to inadequate sanitation and to the lack of access to clean drinking water. Children under the age of five are particularly af-fected by this situation.
Achievements to date
Dialog with the local people and an analysis of the current provision are the main priorities in order to ensure that the money gets to where it is most needed. The potential villages and schools have now already been identified and the first kick-off meeting has been held with head teachers and the re-sponsible authorities. Once the schools and villages have been identified for the project, the next step will be to set up the project training courses and campaigns which will be aimed at around 5,000 pupils. They will be trained up to become "hygiene ambassadors" so that they can spread the word and pass their knowledge on to their families. The first training courses were held only recently. The young people selected to become hygiene ambas-sadors learned how important their role is for both the community and the project. They were also shown by way of practical examples how a broken well can be repaired. Some of the schools and communities identified in the initial baseline analysis have already benefited from these practical ses-sions. Here are a few impressions.
Cotton is an annually renewable resource, a fibre with and in which people feel comfortable. Cotton has been spun for millennia and industrially processed for more than 250 years. Can cotton be both natural and high-tech at the same time? What are the current high-tech aspects of cotton con-sumption? Can we have high-tech textiles from natural fibre? The International Cotton Conference Bremen looks at cotton from cultivation right through to textile products. It unites the latest research with its practical use.
These will be some of the focal points in 2016:
- What are the new directions between classical cotton growing and transgenic modification and what possibilities do they provide us?
- Textile architecture and finishing: What innovative processes and products are being developed?
- What directions are possible in responsible crop protection?
In Bremen Bremen Cotton Exchange will provide the answers: Analyses, findings, research results, innovations and solutions will be presented and discussed. New for this Conference will be the Break-Out Sessions, which will extend the scientific character of the Confer-ence and at the same time provide a firework of subjects for everyone. In Keeping with tradition, the 33rd International Cotton Conference Bremen will take place from 16th to 18th March 2016 at the medieval Town Hall in the Hanseatic City of Bremen, Germany. The Bremen Conference is a unique meeting opportunity for people from all sides of the cotton business, from the cotton seed producer to the retailer. Meet-ings of various international organizations such as ICAC, ITMF and CICCA also contribute to the Conference, as well as social events such as the famous “Bremer Abend”.
From fashion to sporting and lifestyle - every week our partner Tchibo offers a new world of products to its consumers. Not only the quality values high for Tchibo. The company is committed to ensure that the production does not harm people and the environment. This raises many questions: What are the raw materials used for products? What is the impact of the production on the environment? How do the people who produce the raw materials for the products live, and what are the conditions under which the products are manufactured?
As a family company Tchibo takes responsibility seriously and has incorporated aspects of sustainable development into its business strategy since 2006. Therefore, they constantly pursue their goal of 100% sustainability for their business and rely on proven standards such as Cotton made in Africa. To know the standard more in detail, Mr. Coffeebean follows the red thread. In the clip down below, he is having a closer look on Cotton made in Africa:
The people in the countries of cotton production in Africa and the environment we are active in are the central focus of our work. That is why our commitment extends beyond the sustainable cultivation of cotton and why we launched the CmiA Community Cooperation Program in 2015. There is backing for projects in education, health and environment and for initiatives in support of women. Consequently, the Program builds on the successes of the cooperation projects begun in 2009.
All projects of the CmiA Community Cooperation Program are developed by verified local CmiA partners in cooperation with the village communities on the basis of a need analysis. A board of expert advisors meets twice a year in order to select the projects for funding. For more information please visit our project site or get in contact with us. An example what has already been realised within one project can be found down below:
According to the results of the African Economic Outlook 2015, 60 percent of the African population is employed in agriculture, including the cotton industry. The sector generates around 25 percent of global gross national product. For the most part it is dependent on exports. African cotton supply is increasing, although profits from the cultivation of cotton are stagnating and yields are below average. We discussed this with Christian Barthel, in his capacity as Director of Supply Chain Management of the Cotton made in Africa Initiative (CmiA).
COTTON REPORT: MR BARTHEL, LOOKING AHEAD TO THE COMING YEARS, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR AFRICA?
Christian Barthel: The population in Africa will triple by 2050. Development through the modernisation of local economies, including the agricultural sector, is essential. Africa exports a large part of its raw materials. This is also the case with cotton. An essential task is to promote a process of industrialisation in cotton growing countries in the direction of downstream products such as spinning and weaving, or even clothing. More production plants near where the cotton is grown would lead to more employment opportunities and sources of income for local people.
IN AFRICA, THE YIELDS PER COTTON ACREAGE ARE STILL COMPARATIVELY LOW. WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED TO MAKE CMIA COTTON MORE PROFITABLE?
Initial studies have shown that the farmers who grow their cotton according to CmiA criteria generate around 20 percent higher yields. On top of that CmiA cotton ensures timely and transparent payment, pre-financing of inputs and fair working conditions in the gins. With our projects we are now working in 10 African countries in the sub-Saharan region. Cotton verified under the CmiA standard is likely to account for just under 25 percent of the supply from sub-Saharan Africa. From 2008 until the end of 2015, CmiA licensed products will have generated license revenue of around EUR 6 million to invest for the benefit of African farmers and their families.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THIS?
On the one hand, we achieve this with the establishment of an alliance of textile companies that integrate CmiA cotton into their chains and thus build solid and long-term trade relations with Africa. On the other hand we provide intensive and permanent training measures in cotton farming or in business management knowledge that will help them control their income and expenditure. In addition, modern, efficient and environmentally friendly farming practices help to reduce their spending, thereby increasing revenues. For example, we focus on measures of watchful, preventative, but also actively engaging pest management. Smallholders learn to distinguish pests from beneficial organisms and to increasingly use biological pest control methods such as molasses traps. Pesticides of the Rotterdam Convention, Stockholm list, WHO classes 1a and b are completely forbidden in CmiA.
IN MARKETING THE PRODUCT, THE CONSISTENT QUALITY OF THE COTTON AVAILABLE FOR PROCESSING PLAYS AN ESSENTIAL ROLE. HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THIS DURING CULTIVATION?
At the consumer level, CmiA is perceived as a sustainability label, but in the B2B market it is seen as a product with a certain quality. In the marketing it is clear that we offer hand-picked cotton. It has a staple length of between 27 - 29 millimetres. We therefore offer a quality that is very well suited for use in the mass market. Because the cotton is picked by hand, we recommend that the mills ensure thorough cleaning before their further processing. At the same time, our training in cultivation means that contamination by foreign bodies is reduced. In addition, there are projects of partial mechanisation running at harvest time.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR DOING WITHOUT THE USE OF GMO COTTON?
Firstly, when selling our cotton we are a European-styled initiative and for European consumers, sustainability and genetic engineering are irreconcilable opposites. Many of our demand partners also view the issue very critically. There is still too little known about the long-term effects of the use of GM seed and whether it brings long-term economic benefits to farmers. We have therefore decided to go our own way and to achieve increases in quality and economic yields using other methods.
WHY IS BUILDING UP A TEXTILE AND CLOTHING INDUSTRY ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR COTTON IN AFRICA?
It is important to also process a portion of the cotton produced in Africa in the producing countries themselves, so that added value ranging from raw materials to the final product is created within the continent. This leads to growth, both on the domestic market as well as in worldwide exports. African products could increase their share in international supply chains due to attractive production costs. This is important especially in the sub-Saharan region. The first initiatives for this can be seen in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. With Cotton made in Africa, we can also create a local and readily available sustainable basis for a completely African product. The current challenge is to build up the necessary infrastructure. Here, we are just at the beginning. We assume that the development will take about another three to five years.
WHAT DO YOU CONTRIBUTE IN THE AREA OF SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT?
We advise partners in the cost-neutral integration of CmiA cotton in their procurement channels and the optimum use of its products. This is done, for example, in the form of training for employees in purchasing departments and in the import offices of organisations abroad. In addition, there is training for spinning mills, textile merchants and textile and clothing manufacturers. This is carried out in relevant procurement markets such as China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and also in Germany. Thus, we support companies operatively in achieving their sustainability goals. This helps licensees considerably in saving additional costs. This is very important for use in the mass market. There is no elaborate certification of the entire textile chain in Cotton made in Africa. If companies wish, CmiA can provide full traceability in the textile chain back to the cotton bales. To continue to promote the issue of sustainable raw materials and supply chains, we are an active member of the German Textile Alliance. Here, Cotton made in Africa is recognised as a standard with which companies can put their textile chain on a sustainable basis.
THANK YOU FOR THE INTERVIEW!
With thanks to Bremen Cotton Exchange for making the interview available.
Source: Bremen Cotton Report Nr. 41/42 - 22. October
Throughout the year, the Aid by Trade Foundation is engaged in various events and stakeholder meetings to inform about its Cotton made in Africa initiative, present its work and discuss about developments and future strategies. Here we would like to inform you about future events that concern the large range of our work - from cotton production over the supply chain management up to the retail market. We are looking forward to meeting you.
- 21.-23.7. TexWorld New York City USA
- 21.-22.7. Premiere Vision New York City, USA
- 08.2015 CmiA Workshop on Child Labour, Ivory Coast (by invitation only)
- 03.-05.08. CmiA Supply Chain Management Workhop, Morocco (by invitation only)
- 01.09. CmiA Workshop on bio-intensive IPPM / botanical pesticides Mwanza, Tanzania (by invitation only)
- 03.09. CmiA Workshop on bio-intensive IPPM / botanical pesticides Lusaka, Zambia (by invitation only)
- 07.09. CmiA Workshop on GAP Picture Block (East Africa Version) Lusaka, Zambia (by invitation only)
- 21.09. Africa Business Communities Networking Event Hamburg, Germany
- 29.09. Conference (Südwind/Clean Clothes Campaign): "Hard work für soft fibers. Approaches to overcome labor rights violations in cotton production." Düsseldorf, Germany
- 08.10. AFCOT Meeting Deauville, France
- 20.10. CmiA & COMPACI 9th Stakeholder Conference Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (by invitation only)
- 21.-23.10. ORIGIN AFRICA Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- 12.-15.01. Heimtextil Messe Frankfurt, Germany
- 15.-18.02. Texworld Paris - CmiA Conference 16.02. 14h30
- 16.-18.03. Bremer Baumwollbörse Conference Bremen, Germany (by invitation only)