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4. Results

Results in capacity development for lobby and advocacy

  • Partners (DEDRAS, AKB, PASCiB and COSI) have been trained in lobbying and advocacy techniques, following the ‘Mobilizing Support’ Train-the-Trainer training developed by Wilde Ganzen. In turn, the trainers trained 18 shea and cashew producers’ organizations. Participants in the training developed their local lobby action plans.
  • Capacity development of labor rights. The Alliance partner COSI has organized training and awareness raising activities for shea and cashew company workers. Mainly in FLUDOR Benin the biggest processing company of both shea and cashew, reaching 200 workers, of which 166 women). They have been sensitized on labor legislation related to the agricultural sector, covering decent work and labor rights within the shea and cashew sectors in order to enhance the bargaining power.
  • Thousands of agricultural workers (cashew farmers and shea collectors, women in majority), grouped in community based associations, have seen their skills improved with training on good practices in post-harvesting management. Stakeholders have established a formal framework for dialogue between the government representatives (Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade) and the private sector for quarterly meetings to address shea and cashew challenges.
  • Issues of the cashew and shea sectors are widely known, documented and accessible to all stakeholders via disseminated studies and development of a common position paper.
  • Development of a joint position paper in creating an enabling environment for the shea and cashew sector. The paper highlights the solutions proposed by the private sector, the recommendations they formulate vis-à-vis the government (both national and decentralized) and displays the commitments of civil society organizations for the achievement of the proposed solutions.
  • Creation of synergy with GiZ and Technoserve to pool technical and financial resources and coordinate lobbying and advocacy actions for the benefit of producers and processors.

Results in lobby and advocacy

  • The Cashew Coalition, a coalition of non-state actors is transformed into the Cashew Interprofession (5), which is considered by the national government as representative of the cashew sector. This result creates a strong foundation for policy influencing; the Alliance contributed seriously to formation of this cashew sector representation.
  • Cashew and shea private sector are speaking with one voice and use their position paper (developed and published by Alliance members) to hold the government accountable for common challenges in these sectors.
  • Awareness on the role of trade unions in promoting decent work in both sectors has also contributed to the government openness to dialogue with cashew and shea private sector.
  • Opening of the dialogue between the government, trade unions and other stakeholders of the program for the ratification of the ILO Convention 129 on General Inspection of Work in the Agricultural Sector. For now, the draft of the text is transmitted to the Parliament. Here, COSI joined forces with UNICEF to operate.
  • As a result of lobby interventions regarding the promotion of decent work carried out by partner COSI working conditions for female shea and cashew workers have been improved in several companies. An example is the provision of a health insurance to around 500 rural women.
  • Improved working conditions in the industrial chains.
  • Support to 25 non-formal cashew farmers’ cooperatives to change their statute to formal cooperatives with registration.
  • In December 2018, 200 women collectors and processors walked in the city of Djougou (North West Benin) to remind the prefect of the province, the importance of shea for their income and their duty to ensure the protection of the shea tree. As a result, the authority decided to create a platform extended to all mayors of districts for exchanges and dialogue (6). The Alliance took this opportunity to enter advocacy and dialogue within the rest of the provinces where shea is a local product.
  • Alliance partner COSI Benin discussed decent work issues with FLUDOR S.A, the biggest shea and cashew processing company in Benin. The Management was initially reluctant (7). By adopting a win-win strategy COSI Benin showed the Management of FLUDOR the advantage for the company of workers’ performance, training and sensitization. By means of a constructive social dialogue both parties have committed themselves to improve the living and working conditions of the 1,000 employees of the factory and 3,000 shea growers and cashew farmers with whom this company collaborates. COSI Benin and FLUDOR Benin S.A signed a Memorandum of Understanding (8).
  • Developing the synergy with GiZ achieved interim results: institutionalization of dialogue with the government, better sector regulation through a decree on the marketing of cashew and shea products and a decree on establishing, organizing and operating the Cashew and Shea Council. And not forget the embracement of the government as shea as a priority sector in agriculture, mentioned in the National Development Plan 2018-2025 for Agriculture (PNDF), published in 2018.

(5) For the shea sector, the process of transformation from shea national coalition, named AKB, to the “Shea Interprofession”, is still ongoing and could be achieved in 2020.
(6) Video can be viewed at: https://civicengagementalliance.org/countries/benin/stories-of-change/caravan-to-protect-shea-trees-and-women-s-livelihoods
(7) The reluctance is due to an unfortunate experience with another trade union that, during a demonstration, burned the company's packaging manufacturing unit.
(8) Link to article on the signing of the memorandum:
http://www.cosi-benin.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=165:promotion-du-travail&catid=14&Itemid=1238

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