COVID-19 FAIRTRADE EMERGENCY INITIATIVES IN SRI LANKA Funded By THE German Ministry For Economic Cooperation And Development (BMZ)

The impact of COVID-19  has shaken the entire world. Irrespective of the economic challenges the outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the health and wellbeing of farmers and workers to extreme vulnerability. The farming community continues to remain on the frontline ensuring food security for the population while they battle against lost income, increased poverty, and lack of access to healthcare facilities.

While the challenges continue to mount, the Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP) team remain active on the ground with the implementation of various Relief and Resilience activities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of the Fairtrade farmers and workers in the Asia and Pacific Region.

In Sri Lanka to address the short-term and long term needs of the Fairtrade Producer Organisations, several Relief and Resilience activities are being implemented under the ‘COVID-19  Fairtrade Emergency Initiative’ funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ)

  • Relief Activities Fairtrade Sri Lankan Labour Plantations

The Relief activities will be carried out in 3 phases for the distribution of i) protective gear and medical equipment and ii) stationery packs for children in 25 tea estates, followed by the distribution of iii) dry ration food packs for workers in Strathdon estate of Hatton Plantation.

  • Relief and Economic Recovery Activities in Fairtrade Small Producer Organisations

In Sri Lanka 200 smallholder farmer families in 2 cooperatives have been provided with water purifiers for access to clean drinking water. In addition, to support small-scale farmers, economic recovery support will be further provided such as setting up of composting facilities (equipment and inputs) and vegetable nurseries (equipment and inputs). The activities will cover 8862 beneficiaries.

Distribution Of COVID-19 Relief And Prevention Materials to Fairtrade Sri Lankan Plantations

The first phase i.e the ‘Distribution of Protective Gears and Medical Equipment’ was organised in Jan through the facilitation of Fairtrade NAPP. The activity covered 23 tea estates and 02 flower gardens benefitting 16,920 plantation workers.

''On behalf of the Estate Management firstly, I take this opportunity to thank Fairtrade International for providing all the timely needed safety materials to our workers who work in the frontline and approach COVID-19, infected people. We have received face shields, safety boots, disinfectants, and hand sanitisers. This has ensured a safe to work environment for both our tea plantation and health workers'' – T Gnanawander, Fairtrade Officer of Dickoya Estate

A COVID-19 Prevention Task Force consisting of 25 to 30 men and women were formed as independent volunteer teams for each estate to prevent the spread of infection among the workers in the tea gardens and to distribute the medical essentials and protective gears which included thermal scanners, hazmat suits, face shields, gloves, safety boots, and KN 95 masks.

Read more about the activity

Distribution Of Water Purifiers For Providing Access To Safe Drinking Water To 200 Fairtrade Small-Scale Farmers In Sri Lanka!

In Sri Lanka to support the small-scale farmers in the region of Matale, Hakmana and Puttalam get access to clean drinking water, a project under the ‘COVID-19 Fairtrade Emergency Initiative’ was implemented by Fairtrade International. Through the Project, water purifiers were distributed by NAPP to 200 Fairtrade farmers (143 male and 57 female) benefitting 879 households in the community.

This Project is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by GIZ, German Agency for International Cooperation .

H W Sriyani, a woman farmer at SAFENET has been farming for the past 30 years. Her family gets their daily water supply from the well water which is pumped into their storing tank. About 5% of their daily water supply comes from tap water.

With a family of 05 members, she is especially concerned about the health of her children and aged parents.

She mentions, ”Here the majority of the farmers use well water which is at the same level with the paddy field that is contaminated and has the potential to adversely affect our health. Even the tap water that comes through the water supply is high in chlorine content. The water filter will provide us drinking water with a better taste and smell. It will remove any unsafe materials from our drinking water and help the farmers and their families get access to clean drinking every day without a worry.’’

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Distribution of Food Packs to workers in Strathdon estate, Hatton Plantation

Food insecurity has been one of the major crises faced by rural households across Asia and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified their vulnerabilities even more. In Sri Lanka, through support from the BMZ fund, food packs were distributed to 785 households in the Strathdon estate of Hatton Plantation. The estate has an aggregate population of 4430 people with an average household of 5 members. The relief activity has also benefitted 3645 indirect beneficiaries reaching approximately 2268 women in the households. The ration distributed will be enough to last for an entire month for an average household.

Distribution of school stationeries to children in Sri Lankan Plantations

During the COVID-19 travel restrictions, it is difficult for workers and their children in the plantations and in the extreme rural areas to have the means to travel and procure educational materials to support remote learnings. The initial stages of learning are critical for their overall growth and development. Under the COVID 19 Fairtrade Emergency Initiative funded by BMZ, 121000 note books were distributed to the children in 23 tea estates and 02 flower gardens benefitting 17200 + children. An alternate savings to meet their additional expenses are always a relief for the workers during this challenging time. They are able to save and utilize this amount for meeting other expenses for their children such as procuring internet data for their remote schooling.