Since October 2011 C&A has been part of the CmiA initiative's international Demand Alliance. In 2012 the Düsseldorf and Brussels-based fashion company plans to take up 1,000 tonnes of sustainably produced African cotton for its textile products. Now CmiA and C&A are also collaborating in the field of social media.
C&A Europe will support the "terre des hommes", "Mercy Corps" and "Cotton made in Africa" organizations in the period between December 1st and early January 2012 with a sum of 500,000 €. But the fashion company will not be deciding the amount each organization will get; they are letting users and fans of country-specific C&A Facebook pages across Europe decide by visiting and selecting their favorite organization at http://www.facebook.com/ca.
This campaign aims to raise awareness of various charitable projects by actively including social media networks. This social media effort is part of a much wider annual donation campaign that C&A Europe invests heavily in on a European, national and local level
Besides CmiA these two participants are also participants of the campaign:
terre des hommes: Among other fields of activity, the child protection organization focuses on developing school and educational projects in various countries. One of their long-term projects in collaboration with C&A is the Salesians of Don Bosco, a construction and operation vocational education center in the Indian textile town of Tirupur.
Mercy Corps: Its mission is to reduce suffering, poverty and oppression in the world, and to help people build secure, productive and just communities. Mercy Corps tries to provide aid and support to help people to help themselves through its various projects, such as the aid to earthquake victims in Haiti.
Links: *on.fb.me/uf4ZIR *www.facebook.com/ca
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) have today, 23 September 2011, signed a MoU. This MoU sets out the intention of both organisations to develop a partnership, under which Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) can be sold as Better Cotton, and activities of both organisations are coordinated and harmonised. The aspiration is to sign a 'Partnership Agreement' by the end of 2011, but not later than the 31st of March 2012. A successful partnership would deliver Better Cotton, produced by the AbTF to market by late 2012, increasing market access for retailers to more sustainable cotton sources and offering increased efficiency for hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan farmers in Africa.
Please find here the aggregated summary in French and English of the implementation of CmiA exclusion criteria and sustainability criteria at farm level and for ginneries in the five African countries CmiA is working in. Every two years cotton companies and smallholder farmers producing cotton in Cotton made in Africa quality, are verified by independent verification institutes (EcoCert or AfriCert). All cotton companies cooperating with CmiA are now successfully verified.
The Cotton made in Africa Initiative and Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) invited to the 5th Stakeholder Conference in Livingston Zambia. Over 90 representatives from cotton businesses, farmer cooperatives, textile companies and NGOs from Africa, Europe and the USA met from October 12-14 in Livingstone at Victoria Falls to learn from one another and engage in discussion.
The fact that representatives from the entire textile value chain reported on their work made this meeting so special: These included a South African fashion designer, a representative from the Tchibo company and cotton farmers, all of whom highlighted their work and experience with CmiA and COMPACI from a wide range of perspectives. The topics selected for presentation were richly varied. Talks and working groups provided participants with an opportunity to hear about the results of the first assessment of project success in the project areas, for example, or about greener pesticides and optimised seeds. A panel discussion with representatives from the UK, Germany and the USA provided insight into the challenges and opportunities for the international marketing of Cotton made in Africa.
The exchange of ideas and experience among farmer representatives and cotton companies in the individual African project countries was particularly fruitful for participants. Reports from countries like Zambia, Cameroon or Benin offered excellent opportunities to learn from one another and enter into conversation.
After the conference, a 12-person delegation continued travelling to Lusaka to learn first-hand about the immediate implementation of the work of COMPACI and CmiA in the field. The Dunavant Zambia cotton company organised the trip which included a visit to a smallholder farmer involved in the CmiA initiative. She was recently given access to a tractor to assist her in working her fields, which will have a positive effect on her labour and yield. The group also enjoyed a demonstration of "good agricultural practises" at an award-winning teaching farm and visited a primary school. The school had undergone renovation and expansion as part of a social project co-sponsored by the Otto Group, Dunavant Zambia and DEG. Over all the entire school project will provide around 7,000 girls and boys in the Zambian project region with a better school infrastructure and as such increase their access to education.
The most devastating drought for decades has taken hold in the Horn of Africa. In some regions in the south of Somalia there is no longer anything to eat at all; millions of people are fleeing from the threat of starvation. In an interview, Christoph Kaut, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, tells us about the situation in East Africa.
Mr Kaut, you have often travelled around the continent. Currently the people in the East African countries are going through the worst drought in 60 years. Is this a natural disaster -- or what else could have caused it?
Christoph Kaut: Periods of drought occur again and again in these regions. It is no surprise, however, that the rural population of Somalia is particularly badly affected. The civil war that has been going on for two decades now is responsible for both the poor infrastructure conditions and that the absence of virtually any precautionary measures. For this reason there are hardly any food reserves.
Additionally, strong growth in the population in East Africa in the last few years has led to a rise in livestock across all the countries there. In turn this has led to large areas being overgrazed. The fertility of the soil has decreased due to overuse and erosion -- and on top of this, climate change is also making its contribution. The timing and intensity of rainfall is changing and in some cases the rain has failed completely. Farmers have been unable to prepare themselves sufficiently well to cope.
With the „Cotton made in Africa" initiative, the Aid by Trade Foundation helps cotton farmers in Africa to help themselves. The foundation establishes an alliance of international textile companies who buy and process sustainably produced cotton from African smallholder farmers specifically for the world market. The cultivated areas are in western and southern Africa. Has the drought also had consequences for your partners on location?
Kaut: Our cultivated areas have also been affected by climate change and increasing population pressure. The harvest yields for the small farmers in Benin und Burkina Faso, for example, have fallen by as much as 33 per cent as a result of delayed rainfall.
Together with German development organisations we carry out local training measures locally to help people cope with climate change and decreasing soil fertility. That way the farmers learn, for example, how to build compost pits, construct walls to protect against erosion and how they can sow their seeds with minimal previous treatment of the soil. This is intended to raise the water retention properties of the soil so that it is better able to absorb the more frequent bursts of heavy rainfall. It also enables soils to retain more CO2, which then decreases the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
In your view, what aid provision is required most urgently at the moment in the countries affected − Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti?
Kaut: Right now, direct assistance is the order of the day − most importantly food, drinking water and medical care.
What needs to be done to improve the situation in the long term? Kaut: To ensure that this kind of catastrophe not to repeat, we need to actively address the problems caused by man as rapidly as possible. The infrastructure, for example, needs to be further developed, agricultural training programmes need to be carried out and school education needs to be improved.
What's fundamentally important -- but definitely the most difficult to implement -- is a peaceful solution to the conflict in Somalia, along with the development of a stable government in the region. Only then will the conditions be present for sustainable, long-term development.
Many Otto Group employees are asking themselves what they can do. How would you advise them?
Kaut: All the well-known aid organisations, such as German Agro Action oder Médecins Sans Frontières, are on location and definitely deserve our support. We should take care, however, not to limit the scope of our donations to urgent emergency aid. These organisations should also have the option to invest the money in long-term redevelopment measures.
The interview was held on behalf of the Otto Group by Katja Strube, free journalist.
Files: *fileadmin/cmia_abtf/karte_duerre_ostafrika_ocha.jpg124 KB
Links: *www.welthungerhilfe.de/horn-of-africa-drought-aid.html *www.msf.org.uk/Marere_Somalia_20110715.news
The idea by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh, of helping the world's poorest people to help themselves out of their situation by offering them microcredits won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He is strongly in favour of business-motivated and socially-oriented development ideas like that of the Aid by Trade Foundation and its initiative Cotton made in Africa. He is firmly convinced that "the future belongs to social business".
Muhammad Yunus is regarded by many people worldwide as the advocate of the poor. Grameen Bank, founded by him in Bangladesh in 1983, offers microcredits to the poorest people in the country so that they can start a business and earn their living independently. The bank has now tendered loans to more than 7.5 million credit recipients. Most of them are women, and the loans are sometimes as little as five dollars. Often that is all that is required. "To give handouts to people merely deprives them of any motivation to help themselves. The aim must be to help people to become independent," says Professor Yunus.
Yunus' idea remains one of the main instruments for poverty reduction. He points out that the economic interest should not focus on profit maximisation but on the greatest utility for the people concerned. "Only when social values are established in the market economy it will function for the poorest of the poor." The 71-year-old expert firmly believes that social business will continue to develop in the future.
The profit earned by a company is given back to those who have created it within a social business -- as with the Cotton made in Africa initiative, which transfer their profit by offering trainings and paying profit dividends for participating farmers.
During his visit at the Aid by Trade Foundation 7th of July 2011 Yunus underlines that Cotton made in Africa impressively demonstrates how a social business helps the poorest of the poor to help themselves: "The initiative is a win-win situation for the participating smallholders and Demand Alliance partners and shows how socially compatible trade with developing countries can work for the benefit of all concerned."
On the occasion of his travel to Hamburg Prof. Yunus discussed about the principles of the social business idea with the employees of the foundation and informed himself about the progress of the Cotton made in Africa initiative.