East & Central Africa

Supporting dynamic agricultural value chains

In 2019, we accelerated and deepened our market-based interventions with a focus on 2020 and beyond. With key projects reaching maturity, we extracted lessons and best practices. For instance, we are learning from the outcomes of the Food Security through Improved Resilience of Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya (FOSEK) project, Food for All Project Kenya (F4APK) and Oromia Coffee and Dairy Development project, which have trained farmers in good dairy practices in Ethiopia and Kenya. We increased our business development activities and developed a strong opportunities pipeline. We also expanded our efforts in Central Africa, particularly in Cameroon.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Coffee

    The 7,850 lead farmers we trained since our coffee programme launched two years ago, have reached out to a further 106,566 small-scale farmers in the region. We noted a 35% increase in farmer incomes in 2019, despite falling coffee prices. Over 20% of the youth we worked with this year are now deriving incomes from job opportunities in nursery management, coffee varietal conversion, and integrated soil fertility management.

  • Dairy

    Through our FOSEK and Oromia projects, we trained 11,000 coffee farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia to diversify into dairy this year. As part of the F4APK project, cooperatives in Kenya benefited from new cooling tanks and information management systems. Over ten million litres of milk were aggregated through the cooperatives. And in Tanzania, 140 farmers (36% women) were trained in animal husbandry and business skills as part of the Dairy-2025 project.

  • Fruit & Vegetables

    More than 21,000 farmers adopted good practices, including safe use of herbicides, efficient irrigation systems, and post-harvest technologies. About 11,668 people registered for our Farmers Realm app, a two-way platform that provides information and links to experts. At a workshop for our Follow the Food project in Kenya, we shared findings on inclusive agribusinesses and highlighted the role small and medium enterprises play in food security in local communities.

  • Gold

    We continued to support artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In the Anti-Child Labour in ASM Gold Mines project in Uganda, we conducted eight training sessions, reaching about 100 miners (40% youth). They were trained in best practices and business planning skills. In partnership with the Impact Facility, we secured mining equipment and a generator. Miners now have access to personal protection equipment, and health and safety information.

  • Textiles

    This year, we trained 17,500 workers at 28 textile factories in Ethiopia. Our interventions led to the provision of meals in factories, adoption of personal protective equipment, and compliance with wastewater management guidelines. Together with our partners, we won additional funding for the Bottom UP! project to tackle pollution in the garment sector through engaging small and growing businesses in water stewardship.

  • Livestock

    Ethiopia’s Green Tanning Initiative (GTI) project supported 23 tanneries and three abattoirs through various workshops on cleaner leather production. A first B2B matchmaking mission attracted representatives from seven European leather sourcing companies to Ethiopia. This mission was aligned with the African Sourcing & Fashion Week / All African Leather Fair where chrome-free leather articles were unveiled. GTI and the Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) aim to scale up production of chrome-free leather from current trials.

Developments

Livelihoods under threat

Climate change impacts – such as droughts and sporadic rainfall – contributed to fluctuations in the agricultural sector’s productivity across East Africa. In addition, a devastating swarm of locusts invaded Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and other East African countries, threatening food security and livelihoods. 

Governments in East Africa nevertheless maintained their commitment to priorities like inclusive growth and market transformation, modernizing value chains and job creation. In Central Africa, clear efforts were made to enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency through competitive supply chains and market-oriented production. 

Projects throughout the region

With active projects throughout East and Central Africa, we continued to support development priorities, grow our networks and implement innovative development solutions.

As in previous years, we worked in the Ethiopian textiles sector, particularly cotton. We successfully sourced funding for the Bottom UP! project which tackles pollution through engaging small and growing businesses in water stewardship. This was coupled with training on best practices. 

Leveraging government support

Kenya’s government continued to support key commodities, such as coffee, cotton and sugar, in the wake of declining global prices and farmer fatigue due to low returns. Leveraging our experience, we forged linkages to boost resilience and promote livelihood diversification. 

Uganda and Tanzania made strategic investments in the agriculture sector which has attracted funding from donors like the European Union. As a result of positive reforms in national frameworks, both countries are experiencing a revival of the sector. Exploratory missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon enabled us to develop strategic partnerships with key actors and set the tone for successful project implementation. 

Achievements

Intensifying and expanding our support

This year, Solidaridad East and Central Africa intensified and expanded its support of farmers, workers and miners across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

As part of our coffee project portfolio across Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, we trained about 7,200 farmers, including women and youth. Skills enhancement focused on:

  • coffee establishment

  • coffee canopy management

  • crop nutrition

  • climate-smart production

  • harvesting and post-harvest handling. 

Access to finance and apps 

We supported the creation of 82 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), providing about 240 women with access to finance. The women also benefited from capacity enhancement and training in alternative income generation. Across East Africa, about 379 farmers now access Solidaridad's Farming Solution app, an individual self-assessment tool that helps farmers to monitor progress towards sustainable coffee production. 

Our farmers are strategically placed to benefit from new government support, including credit, inputs and extension services. For example, Uganda has identified nine key initiatives to catalyze sector transformation and Kenya has allocated 30 million dollars (26.8 million euros) in the 2019/20 budget to implement reforms in the sector. 

The implementation of climate-smart agriculture practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change has enabled our farmers to increase their productivity and implement holistic farm development plans across commodities, such as coffee, dairy, and fruit and vegetables.

Annual expenditures in thousand euros

 

Personnel in full-time equivalents

 

Partnerships

Robust relationships with new and existing partners

We continued to engage with the Dutch embassies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda throughout 2019, facilitating robust relationships. We revitalised dialogue with other development partners, including USAID, the Danish and Irish embassies, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the German International Development Agency. We also maintained strong relationships with national governments in our respective countries of operation.

In our quest for speed and scale, we actively collaborated with like-minded organizations on interventions. Bottom UP! is a textiles project in Ethiopia funded by the European Union and developed in partnership with Cotton Made in Africa, the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative and MVO Nederland. It will benefit approximately 17,000 garment workers, 2,200 rural workers, and 2,000 cotton farmers, and create a sustainable, transparent, and inclusive value chain. 

Facilitating impact investments

Through our Impact Investment team, we supported a 3.15 million dollar (2.84 million euro) investment deal by OikoCredit in the business growth of Kayonza Tea Growers Factory in Uganda. Meanwhile in Kenya, we partnered with African Coffee Roasters EPZ Limited and funders DANIDA to enhance organic coffee exports from Kenya to consumer markets globally. 

At policy level, we actively coordinated various strategic, interactive multi-stakeholder platforms in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Engagement with academia

Our capacity to contribute towards evidence-based sustainable development is strengthened by our engagement with local and international academic institutions and research organizations, such as Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Makerere University in Uganda.

organization

Strengthening our capacity

With the growth of our project portfolio, we strengthened our internal capacity by recruiting multidisciplinary professionals into key functions to execute our operational and programmatic functions effectively. We enhanced our Business Development, Communications, Finance, and Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning teams to implement projects across the region. 

We onboarded 21 new staff on board, bringing our full-time equivalent (FTE) count to 78, comprising 44 men and 34 women. We are steadily working towards achieving gender balance and have integrated gender-sensitive policies in our recruitment and management activities. 

Boosting skills

As in previous years, learning and development was a key component at Solidaridad. We therefore supported opportunities for staff to boost their professional and leadership skills. In 2019, we collaborated with Solidaridad Southern Africa in a cross-regional exchange programme where we co-operated on digital development and data integration interventions. 

Solidaridad’s updated and improved HR manual and policies focusing on governance, professionalism and integrity have been made available to all staff for easy access and reference to ensure a high performance culture. Within the year, we integrated new staff and held a refresher course for staff on the quality management system to maintain our ISO 9001:2015 certification.

COMMUNICATION AND CAMPAIGNING

Establishing our credibility 

In 2019, we continued to establish our credibility through positive engagements with the media on notable events featured in both the international and local media, and across print and electronic platforms. 

The events ranged from the Bottom UP! project launch to the first impact investment deal from OikoCredit, and were also published on the Solidaridad Network website. Additionally, through our local and vernacular TV and radio stations, Solidaridad took part in discussions on topical issues, such as food safety and security.

Social media presence

We also revamped our digital media platforms and reached over 11,000 people with our posts. One of the posts – about a knowledge exchange visit in Mekele, Ethiopia – reached over 1,782 people and had 354 engagements. We continued to receive positive feedback, inputs and appreciation from a diverse interactive audience. 

Award-winning initiatives

The Uganda Gold Partnership implemented by Fairphone, Solidaridad and other partners was awarded Partnership of the Year Award by Ethical Corporation in acknowledgement of the partnership’s efforts to tackle child labour in artisanal and small-scale mining communities in Uganda. 

In Ethiopia, we earned an award from the Federal Coffee and Tea Authority for our contribution towards the success of a coffee pruning mobilization initiative. Also in Ethiopia, our Green Tanning Initiative team received an award from the Addis Ababa Slaughterhouse Enterprise for its capacity building to improve the quality of rawhide and skins for Ethiopia’s tanning industry. 

Paper on balancing productivity and conservation

Another notable achievement was the publication of our position paper: ‘Balancing productivity and conservation in high value ecosystems, the Kilimanjaro Landscapes Solutions publication’. The paper was launched at the third African Landscapes Dialogue held in Tanzania, attended by more than 150 participants representing 29 countries.

As part of our corporate social responsibility work, we co-created and participated in the Walk for Hunger 2019, in conjunction with Africa for SDGs, Welt Hunger Hilfe, Hoffnungszeichen/Sign of Hope and CESVI, to promote greater awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and food insecurity. Some 578 participants, mostly students, took part. 

FINANCE AND CONTROL

2.6 million euro boost

The implementation of the Practice for Change (PfC) and Advocacy for Change (AfC) projects, financed by the Dutch government, gave us a boost of 2.6 million euros to implement projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as co-fund newly won projects in the region.

We enhanced our budget through contributions from our implementing partners of 452,000 euros in match-funding, as well as fundraising efforts that yielded 92,000 euros in co-funding.

Reinvigorated fundraising

The projected budget expenditure for 2019 was about 4.8 million euros. Thanks to a reinvigorated fundraising methodology, we achieved a working budget of 5.3 million euros.

Management continued to take a hands-on, oversight approach in the planning, forecasting and budgeting of project activities in 2019. We implemented updated financial and procurement guidelines. 

Food security our priority

We invested 15% in the Food Security through Improved Resilience of Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya (FOSEK) programme, partly financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and partly by private sector players including Nestlé.

A further 13% was invested in the fruits and vegetables sector in our efforts to improve production and productivity of high-value vegetables and dairy products in Eastern Kenya, and increase access to markets for smallholders’ high-value vegetables and dairy produce. 

We allocated 7% to gold, and 6% each to textiles, livestock and dairy, and tea. We budgeted 4% for coffee projects, to support vulnerable households heavily dependent on this commodity for their livelihoods. This investment also served as a strategic move to tap into government policies aimed at supporting coffee production in the region. 

Rachel Wanyoike

Managing Director, Solidaridad East & Central Africa