East Africa Food Crisis

by ActionAid USA
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis
East Africa Food Crisis

Project Report | Feb 15, 2024
Tea Pickers Claiming their Rights

By Katherine Coe | Individual Giving Officer

Patricia aspires to be a tea worker advocate.
Patricia aspires to be a tea worker advocate.

East Africa is facing its worst food crisis for decades, following four years of failed harvests, erratic rainfall and rocketing global food prices. Up to 20 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are going hungry every day, with severe malnutrition amongst infants and young children. Local women, young people and partner organisations on the ground are leading our response, but they need urgent support to expand their life-saving activities and avert a catastrophe.

ActionAid’s is providing emergency food and livelihoods (cash transfers and animal feed), water, and long-term programs, which are building resilience in the communities, through developments like fruit and vegetable gardens and the adoption of sustainable farming practices. ActionAid also works with farmers in different industries to advocate for better working conditions and wages, so that they can be more resilient in the face of adversity, like this historic food crisis.

Across Kenya around 650,000 smallholder farmers produce 65% of the country’s tea. Smallholder farmers have a lack of power within the tea value chain and are not involved in the key decisions that impact them. Fluctuating global tea prices, a historic drought affecting yield, and rising global costs of seeds and fertilizer exacerbate the problem, with profits low and women barely able to support their families.

Approximately 300,000 workers are hired by small-scale farmers in Kenya. The majority are young women, many of whom are economic migrants from other regions who have travelled to tea growing areas in search of employment. Informal workers, especially women tea pickers, in the Kenyan tea industry, are vulnerable to low incomes, as well as poor working conditions, in part due to the informal nature of their employment and a variable wage based on the amount of tea picked. An unliveable wage and lack of access to services including healthcare, education, and safe housing for themselves and their families make the conditions even worse. Rates of domestic violence against women are high, with weak mechanisms in place for prevention and response and there are reports of child labor, with children as young as seven picking tea alongside their parents, to help pay for their school fees or food.

Through a three-year project with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and its member companies, ActionAid is supporting smallholder tea farmers and workers on tea farms in three communities in Kenya. The project aims to help tea picking communities to understand and claim their rights to a positive working environment, improved living conditions, and freedom from violence. The issues of labor rights, the right to education, clean water, decent housing and healthcare, as well as rights to live free from gender-based violence and child labor are central to the project.

Patricia [name changed to protect her identity] 50, is a small-scale farmer with a strong grasp on the challenges facing tea pickers and farmers alike. She was born and raised in the tea community where she now lives with her husband and three children. Whilst Patricia acknowledges she is more fortunate than many other women in the community, she too has struggled to provide for her family and send her children to school, and her health has suffered as a result of carrying out strenuous physical work over a long period of time.

 Patricia discusses the economic challenges of tea farming, explaining that whilst the cost of production of tea is high, returns are low which means that many farmers struggle to afford seeds, fertilisers or protective clothing for spraying the crops. She talks about prevalent issues in the tea community including child labor and gender-based violence.

Patricia would like a platform where farmers and tea pickers can raise their grievances, access their rights as workers and be involved in key decisions in the tea industry which impact them all. She would make a very good women’s leader in her community.

This is just one example of the type of impactful, life-saving projects ActionAid is able to impelment around the world with the support of people like you. Together, we are making a lasting difference.

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Organization Information

ActionAid USA

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @actionaidusa
Project Leader:
Katherine Coe
Washington , DC United States
$4,355 raised of $100,000 goal
18 donations
$95,645 to go
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