2009 South Africa: Supporting Fair Trade at Grassroots Level
Host Country & Organisation: South Africa, Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)
Participant: Louisa Attard
GLEN Member Organisation: TWG, Malta
Time Frame: August – October 2009
This report speaks about my three month internship that took place in Cape Town, South Africa. It covers my experience, the internship, the project I was involved in and the outcome of the internship. The project I formed part of was supporting Fair Trade at grassroots level, which meant that I dealt directly with the beneficiaries of fair trade and also the different organisations that form part of the fair trade system in South Africa.
Since not all trade is fair, fair trade is an alternative system that gives the producers a chance at a better quality of life. It improves the terms of trade so that the producers can also benefit from trade and get a decent price for their produce.
South Africa went through 40 years of apartheid and this had a negative effect on the black society leaving them very marginalised and poor. Apartheid ended in 1994 and since then there have been a lot of ways of trying to empower the blacks, unfortunately not all have be successful. Fair trade has played a big role in trying to get, the very poor farmers and farm workers, a better price for their produce while being respected and treated like human beings. Fair trade might not be the overall solution and there are still a lot of problems that farmers and farm workers face every day. But at least it is a start at empowering them to be able to have a better and dignified life.
The host organisation I worked for was the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG). EMG and the project I was involved aims to provide support and help empower the beneficiaries of fair trade; the farmers and farm workers. With regional workshops, distribution of newsletters with important information and building their capacity the fair trade producers are getting a better understanding of the fair trade system that was created to benefit them.
During my internship I met a few of the fair trade producers who were all very friendly and willing to say their story. In most cases the premium money1 has played a huge part in helping the community out and many have felt that they have benefitted a lot from being fair trade. Like any system there are problems and these in time will hopefully be dealt with but in my three months there I did feel that the project “supporting fair trade at grass roots level” did have a positive impact on the fair trade producers and those who wish to get certified because it was able to empower and inform them about their rights and the fair trade standards so they could fully benefit from the system.
For me the GLEN cycle has been a great opportunity to get involved in global education (GE), travel, meet interesting people and a place to voice your opinion. From the beginning till the end I met interesting people who influenced me and motivated me to get involved in global issues and global education activities. The GLEN cycle is also made up of two training seminars that provide training and preparation for the rest of the journey. The training that GLEN provided was very useful to get more information about GE and to get training on different methodologies on how to carry out GE activities and how to be a critical thinker.
Read the full report here: GLEN FINAL REPORT Louisa SA 2009