For over 10 years Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) has been working with people along the textile value chain - from the field to the point of sales. Together, they are working towards a situation where a sustainability strategy spawns a culture of sustainable consumption. All the more reason to give them the stage in the 2015 annual report for the 10th anniversary of the Foundation. The interviewed CmiA partners talk about challenges and opportunities in connection with an issue which could not be more urgent or more topical in view of environmental disasters and refugee crises.
Cotton made in Africa was established in 2005 with the aim of combining sustainability and profitability and thereby offering both smallholders and companies successful sustainable perspectives on their economic activities to date. The flight of hundreds of thousands of people to Europe and the increasing pressure on our ecosystems demonstrate that CmiA is still relevant after its foundation by Dr. Michael Otto in 2005. Sustainably produced raw materials are becoming more and more important for CmiA partner Stefano Caccia from the company Denim de l’Ile (DDI) in Mauritius which makes denim products for international brands. “Sustainability is currently the most important subject in the denim industry. Everyone is rethinking their production process and supply chain in relation to this subject,” he said. “CmiA is a great help to us in this respect. Demand from customers is increasing, we have an advantage over our competitors, and all at fair prices. We are delighted to see how sustainability is finally becoming “sexy”.”
In the financial year of 2015, 30 textile companies and brands together paid over EUR 1,000,000 as license fees in order to be supplied with CmiA cotton. Revenues from partnership contributions went up due to the growing worldwide network of CmiA partners. The money is used to finance the work of CmiA in the project regions.
Around 750,000 smallholders have now received agricultural, social and business management training in close cooperation with their partner, the Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI), and the cotton companies in Africa. This training is enabling them to achieve lasting effects through the increase in their yield and income. In addition, local projects in environment, empowerment of women, education and health will be funded through the new CmiA Community Cooperation Program. This was launched to mark the 10th anniversary of the Foundation with an endowment of 1 million euro from Dr. Michael Otto.
The annual report is available to download free of charge in German and English here.
CmiA joins the UK’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) to actively support the change within the textile supply chain and work together on a more sustainable textile industry in the UK. As part of the SCAP 2020 Commitment retailers and brands can reduce their carbon, waste and water footprint of clothing by sourcing CmiA certified cotton.
Cotton is the most widely used raw material for global textile production and can have a large environmental impact if it is not produced in a sustainable way. Cotton made in Africa promotes sustainable production and makes a significant contribution to environmental protection due to its environmentally friendly growing and processing methods. “CmiA offers retailers and brands in the UK the unique chance to adhere to their commitment to SCAP to reduce their carbon and water footprint by 15% by 2020 due to CmiA’s proven track record in producing much lower carbon and water impacts. The new cooperation between SCAP and CmiA is a great opportunity for more sustainability in the textile supply chain for UK retailers and brands”, says Abi Rushton, Associate Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation in the UK. More than 50 organizations including retailers such as Asos, Ted Baker, Arcadia Group, New Look, John Lewis and Tesco have already signed up to SCAP, which is led by WRAP, the UK’s resource efficiency experts.
Smallholder farmers who grow cotton according to the Cotton made in Africa standard do not use any artificial irrigation and exclusively practice rain fed agriculture. CmiA cotton saves more than 2,100 liters of water per kilogram of cotton fiber compared to the global average. CmiA partner retailers can save up to four bath tubs of water per one single t-shirt by using CmiA cotton instead of conventional cotton. Additionally, CmiA farmers learn good agricultural practices, increase the use of natural fertilizers by e.g. building compost pits, do not use highly toxic pesticides in accordance with international conventions and harvest by hand. As a result, CmiA cotton emits up to 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of cotton fiber than conventional cotton. These are the results of a study on the ecological footprint of Cotton made in Africa cotton, conducted by PE International.
“We are pleased about the cooperation with SCAP and are eager to take an active part in SCAP’s aim to reduce resource use and secure recognition for corporate performance by helping SCAP hit the sector-wide targets of reducing carbon, water and waste by 15% by 2020. Together, we offer UK retailers and brands, which are looking for a sustainable raw material, a simple solution with a major impact for their ecological footprint“, concludes Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
“We are delighted that Aid by Trade Foundation has joined SCAP. More sustainable forms of cotton such as Cotton made in Africa represent a significant opportunity for clothing retailers and brands to drive reductions in their carbon, water and waste footprints”, concludes Sarah Clayton, Head of Products & Services, WRAP.
About Cotton made in Africa
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) which helps people to help themselves through trade in order to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers and their families in sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholders from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are currently participating in CmiA. Training courses teach the cotton farmers modern, efficient and environmentally-friendly cultivation methods which help them to improve the quality of their cotton, generate higher yields and therefore earn a better income for them and their families. For more information on Cotton made in Africa please visit: http://www.cottonmadeinafrica.org/en.
SCAP’s ambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. By bringing together industry, government and the third sector we aim to reduce resource use and secure recognition for corporate performance by developing sector-wide targets. The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) is led by WRAP - the UK’s resource efficiency experts. For more information on WRAP please visit www.wrap.org.uk or follow us on Twitter - @WRAP_UK. For more information on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan please visit: www.wrap.org.uk/content/sustainable-clothing-action-plan-1
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.
Since 2008, the Cotton made in Africa Standard has contributed to making sub-Saharan smallholder cotton production more sustainable. As of now, up to 700,000 smallholder cotton farmers in ten countries of sub-Saharan Africa have been certfied according to the CmiA standard. To continuously improve the CmiA standard, the AbTF has launched a standard revision process in 2015. We would now like to invite all interested parties to take part in the public consultation and give us feedback.
The certification according to CmiA criteria allows cotton companies to trade their lint cotton under the CmiA denomination. Retailers partnering with CmiA can use the consumer-facing CmiA label. To award CmiA sales certificates, the AbTF commissions independent and ISO accredited control bodies in sub-Saharan Africa to regularly conduct third-party verifications of all CmiA partners both on the agricultural production, on the first level of processing (ginnery) and management level of the partnering cotton companies. During these audits, the independent auditors check both compliance with Minimum Criteria and continuous improvement towards sustainability - measured against Development Criteria.
Since the CmiA Standard came into force in 2008, it has been continuously improved. In 2016, we are already at the revision of vol. 3.1 to CmiA Standard Vol. 4. For the CmiA standard revision process, the Aid by Trade Foundation has called together its Technical Advisory Group on Standard and Verification, which comprises about 20 members from all stakeholder groups - cotton producers, traders, retailers, auditors, donors and implementation partners as well as non-governmental organizations.
The first draft of CmiA Standard vol.4 has been commented through the Technical Advisory Group members in internal feedback loops starting in September 2015, as well as during a face-to-face meeting at the annual CmiA Stakeholder Conference in October 2015. The second round of consultation is again taking place internally within the Technical Advisory Group.
Here you can access the ISEAL public consultation platform and give us your feedback until August, 22nd 2016.
The Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative has approved funding for a health outpost in rural Tanzania to mark the UN's International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28th. The project is the first one to be launched under the umbrella of the new CmiA Community Cooperation Program (CCCP). CmiA set up the Program exactly one year ago on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. Dr. Michael Otto provided the CCCP with starting capital of one million euro.
Governments have recognized, in adopting the 2030 Agenda, that gender equality and the empowerment of women within society is crucial to sustainable development. In rural Africa in particular, women also play a major role in improving the living conditions of the whole family. The Tanzanian town of Kasoli has about 16,000 inhabitants. The little health outpost currently has three beds for delivering babies although there are more than 3,000 women of childbearing age in the town. With 52 births per month on average, neither the number of beds nor the quality of care is adequate. The consequences are disastrous, with four newborn babies dying every month on average.
The community took the initiative to extend the maternity unit, starting back in 2014, but needs help to finish the project. This is where Cotton made in Africa comes in. Funds will be allocated from the Program with a view to reducing the infant mortality rate, ensuring the supply of safe drinking water at the health outpost, and improving the supply of medicines. "The empowerment of the women in the rural regions where the CmiA cotton is grown is a main priority of our initiative," said Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, "and it is very important for us to pursue this project, providing the health outpost with the necessary funds from the Community Cooperation Program and supporting the women in this specific situation." The project in Kasoli is backed by the Tanzanian cotton company Alliance, certified partner for CmiA cotton from Tanzania.
The CCCP funds will be allocated to projects in education, health, empowerment of women, and nature conservation in the CmiA cotton growing regions. Applications for project funding come directly from the CmiA growing regions and can be submitted to the Aid by Trade Foundation as the body responsible for the Cotton made in Africa initiative. An advisory board of NGO and company representatives decides on the allocation of funds and the projects submitted for funding.
For more information about the CmiA Community Cooperation Program:
The ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft is proud to present its new one-stop shopping service Fashion for Teams. Fashion for Teams is aimed at companies, clubs and organizations which are looking for a simple and straightforward way to order sustainable textiles and thereby foster a sense of commitment - both in their own team and along the production chain all the way back to the raw material.
Fashion For Teams offers the opportunity to order sustainable textiles in a simple and straightforward way and is committed to sustainable production from the raw material to the end product. The products bearing the Fashion for Team label are made exclusively in selected factories in accordance with international standards, such as BSCI, SA 8000 and WRAP. A further requirement in respect of the products is the demand for sustainable raw materials conforming to the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) standard or another label with sustainability credentials.
"This new service we are offering is greatly helping to make team clothing sustainable right back at the point of selecting the raw material. Naturally we also take account of commercial aspects in the wider process," says Christian Barthel, Director of ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft and expert in supply chain management. "Fashion for Teams is our solution for all teams which attach importance to sustainable textiles - whether for the next tour, the next marathon or for staff events. With over 20 years of experience in the international procurement markets, we can offer a professional service which is for a good cause," adds Barthel.
The proceeds from Fashion for Teams are used in the spirit of social business in support of the people and of the protection of nature at the first link of the textile chain - directly benefiting the smallholders in Africa and their families and being invested in the Aid by Trade Foundation. This is also in line with the philosophy of the organization Welthungerhilfe that is already working with Fashion for Teams. "When we choose T-shirts for our staff and volunteers, we look for fair production conditions and sustainably produced cotton," explained Dr. Till Wahnbaeck, CEO of Welthungerhilfe, "which is why we opted for Fashion for Teams."
Fashion for Teams is the latest product of ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft GmbH. Since its inception in 2005, the ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft (GmbH) has been supporting the aims of the Aid by Trade Foundation. It is responsible for establishing and managing an alliance of textile companies like OTTO, Tchibo, Ernsting’s family and the Rewe Group which is integrating the Cotton made in Africa cotton in its international flow of goods, raising its profile in the end product for the customer to see and, through the payment of the license fees, helping Africa to help itself through trade.
Fashion for Teams
Fashion for Teams is a service provided by the ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft which was founded in 2005. It offers teams a high-quality mail order and delivery service for textiles sourced from sustainable production from the raw material to the end product. It is possible to order individual products - with style and team spirit. The proceeds from Fashion for Teams are invested responsibly, adopting the principles of social business and benefiting the Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa initiative for the protection of the environment and the improvement of living conditions of African cotton farmers. www. fashionforteams.com/en/