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/
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”.
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.
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