The COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on all our lives. Despite protective measures, the number of infections in some African countries is rising rapidly. In order to set an early example in the fight against the spread of Corona in CmiA partner countries, the AbTF launched its own COVID-19 Initiative in April 2020. The practical implementation of the initiative, which lasted until June 2020, was in the hands of the partner cotton companies while the AbTF provided the financial means. The initiative focused on the promotion of basic hygiene measures. The distribution among all CmiA partners was based on the total number of farmers to ensure the fairest possible distribution. With the words: “The community was grateful … for having recognized their plight and coming to their rescue,” our partner Alliance Tanzania was able to confirm that this was accepted with appreciation. By the end of June 2020, about 33,000 EURO had been called up by the cotton companies for immediate assistance. Nine partners so far reported on the successful implementation of measures. A few other cotton companies were unable to participate in the initiative despite their initial willingness to do so. One of the main reasons for this were strict government-imposed curfews to protect against infection, but also the fact that the company’s own resources were tied up in other measures to overcome the crisis.
In seven partner countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a total of more than 53,500 bars of soap, over 1,400 litres of liquid soap and over 2,900 units of disinfectant were distributed. In addition, partners printed and distributed more than 10,000 pieces of information material on COVID-19, with texts and pictograms providing information on the risks of infection and hygiene measures. Further information was provided in interactive discussions and through hygiene training. More than 6400 masks were purchased benefiting not the least people involved in distribution campaigns. No fewer than 1,200 water canisters were upgraded to hand-washing facilities and directly supplied with soap and disinfectant. Available to the people they have been placed at central locations in the villages and distribution centres of the cotton companies. Some cotton companies also provided vehicles and motorcycles for quick delivery and to enable door-to-door distribution to farmers. This ensured that basic hygiene support was delivered even to remote Cotton Made in Africa locations.
The worldwide COVID-19 case number continues to rise. Meanwhile the Aid by Trade Foundation and CmiA are actively pursuing additional measures to contribute to safe working and living conditions for farmers and ginnery-workers. In additions CmiA has taken further action to make the work of the independent verifiers of CmiA cotton safer during the crisis.