A Successful Regional Workshop for West and Central Africa


After a long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, it finally became possible to hold a regional workshop for all CmiA partners in West and Central Africa. This year’s workshop was held in Lomé, the capital of Togo, from the 14th to the 16th of March.

Because the previous regional workshop was over three years ago, this year’s event was extended to take place over three days. Two representatives from each cotton company were invited. There were also two participants from Germany: Alexandra Perschau, head of the Standards & Outreach Department, and Elena Wahrenberg, CmiA verification manager. They were joined by the CmiA representative and advisor for West and Central Africa, Younoussa Imorou Ali, coming from Benin.

The 30 participants had a lot to discuss. “The focus was on CmiA Standard Volume 4,” says Elena. “After all, there are many new criteria and indicators. We are asking for more from our partners, and that means providing more support.” The workshop also featured presentations and discussions on the many successful CmiA community projects undertaken, how they came to be, and the many different directions that project ideas could take. 

The workshop in Lomé offered three days of discussions, face-to-face meetings, and inspiration for all the participants. We are already looking forward to more of the same at the next workshop in 2024!

Alexandra’s and Elena’s expertise was in especially high demand during the first one and a half days of the workshop, which dealt with changes made to the CmiA standard since the last workshop. In the intervening years, CmiA Standard Volume 3.1 had undergone intensive revisions, which led to the creation of CmiA Standard Volume 4. “This made it crucial to discuss the results of the first audit undertaken using the new standard,” says Elena. “However, it was also important to talk about the Assurance Manual, a new document that addresses processes, responsibilities, and issues related to verification. In addition, we explained several newly formalised processes, for example the complaint response mechanism.”

The second day was for presentations on various subjects, such as the CAR-iSMa project for soil enrichment, and WASH projects (water, sanitation, and hygiene) described by Nansou Coulibaly (COIC-SA). The cotton company SECO presented its training programme addressing the topical issue of erosion protection. Another interesting presentation was given by the NGO OBEPAB on its food spray, which is extracted from indigenous plants and processed into a liquid for spraying on cotton fields. The spray nourishes the natural enemies of certain cotton pests so that the pests’ predators are already close at hand when an infestation begins. By making it easier to keep pests under control, this serves to protect cotton plants. The food spray has also proven to be effective against the cotton leafhopper, a pest that has recently been causing severe damage to cotton harvests in West Africa.

The second day also included intensive discussions focussing on best practices in the diverse array of projects funded through the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme. What distinguishes a successful project proposal? How is funding provided? What are the reporting requirements?

On the last day of the workshop, several participants presented their own projects in detail, and the whole group visited a successful NGO with an intriguing approach: Eau propre d’Afrique, which sets up decentralised networks of potable water that are powered by solar energy. It gives many Togolese access to drinking water of excellent quality and at a low price, which can be paid for by a chip card and is charged for by the litre.

This year’s workshop for West and Central Africa was both inspiring and informative, creating a positive atmosphere for 2023. Many thanks to all the participants who made these days so productive and successful!

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