Living Wage Eastern Africa
Duration: July 2012 – July 2016
Funding: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands.
Project management: Paulien Osse, WageIndicator Foundation.
Enhancing food security in developing countries is one of the new overarching policy aims of Dutch development cooperation. This position links up with current United Nations policies. Their joint concern is prompted by the fear that the food crisis will be worsening over the coming decades. Already today close to 1 billion people worldwide suffer from starvation, and the trend of increasing food prices will lead to more hunger and poverty.
This combination of national and international priorities led the WageIndicator Foundation to design the Living Wage project. Since income security in households has everything to do with food security, WageIndicator definitely has a contribution to make here. It specializes in collecting and making accessible information on minimum wages, collective agreements, current wages, labour law, debates, and compliance sessions.
Living Wage addresses income and food security in 9 countries of East Africa: Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt. The great majorities of their populations work in agriculture and related sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture production, food processing and packaging, transport and storage, marketing, trade and distribution for the domestic as well as for the export markets, and commercial food services (catering, hotels).
The fact that all of its data are internally compatible and internationally comparable, puts WageIndicator in the position to work in all of these countries and sectors simultaneously towards similar goals. It shares its data with others, preferably social partners. It has achieved promising results in working jointly with employers’ and workers’ organisations in earlier projects, in both Africa and on other continents. It is therefore convinced that working conditions can be improved through awareness raising and persuasion, information, through dialogue, compliance, and to increase the number enforceable collective agreements.
The WageIndicator approach of combining online and offline operations is also applied in Living Wage. The Living Wage program unfolds along these lines:
- Provide individual workers and social partners with labour market information regarding their rights and obligations to enable well-informed decision making. Information concerning labour law consists of user-friendly texts about main topics in labour law written in Frequently Asked Questions style and posted on the national WageIndicator websites. They are also used for the so-called Decent Work Check. This tool is made available in printed form for use in the fact finding mini social dialogues, i.e. debates, organized together with social partners.
- Contribute to a better understanding of the institutional framework, and amendments required concerning the minimum wage and Decent Work Agenda in the food supply chain. Information concerning minimum wages is collected, published and updated regularly.
- Gathering of information on collective agreements, collected in cooperation between national social partners for posting on the national WageIndicator websites. The 50 main items in the collective agreements are coded to facilitate comparability. In this way a collective agreements database is built, searchable and printable. It is free to copy from, and for adoption of best examples and clauses from agreements of related sectors, regions, or companies.
Thus WageIndicator believes that through the Living Wage project it can contribute to a better understanding of the income dimension in the food chain and by doing so improve food security in the Eastern African region as a whole.