Malawi2020: Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in the tea industry | Malawi

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In June 2016, Oxfam conducted a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) exercise in Mulanje, Southern Malawi, in the context of the Malawi2020 Tea Revitalization Programme (Malawi2020). This programme aims to achieve a competitive, profitable tea industry that can provide living wages and incomes for its workers by 2020. The VRA sought to address the key hazards and issues affecting people and stakeholders in the tea-growing landscape of Southern Malawi, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders such as national government representatives, estate managers, union delegates and unskilled tea industry workers. It analysed the main issues facing the tea industry and the people involved in it, then drafted suggestions to reduce the risks they face and provide further inputs into the Malawi2020 Roadmap. 
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  OCTOBER 2016 MALAWI2020 Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in the tea industry    A tea plantation in Malawi. Photo: Wolfgang Weinmann/Oxfam In June 2016, Oxfam conducted a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) exercise in Mulanje, Southern Malawi, in the context of the Malawi2020 Tea Revitalization Programme (Malawi2020). This programme aims to achieve a competitive, profitable tea industry that can provide living wages and incomes for its workers by 2020. The VRA sought to address the key hazards and issues affecting people and stakeholders in the tea-growing landscape of Southern Malawi, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders such as national government representatives, estate managers, union delegates and unskilled tea industry workers. It analysed the main issues facing the tea industry and the people involved in it, then drafted suggestions to reduce the risks they face and provide further inputs into the Malawi2020 Roadmap.   2 Malawi2020: Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in the tea industry CONTENTS Executive Summary: key takeaways ............................................ 4   Foreword ........................................................................................ 6   1   Introduction .............................................................................. 7   2   Context setting ......................................................................... 8   3   Findings from the VRA .......................................................... 10   3.1 Step 1  –  Initial Vulnerability Assessment ......................................................... 11   3.2 Step 2  –  Impact Chain Exercise ...................................................................... 15   3.3 Step 3  –  Proposals for ways forward ............................................................... 20   4   Outcomes ............................................................................... 30   4.1 Issues directly related to Malawi2020 .............................................................. 30   4.2 Issues relating to the work of Oxfam in Malawi ................................................ 31   4.3   Issues r  elating to Oxfam’s Economic Justice team and the Resilience Knowledge Hub ............................................................................................. 32  Appendix 1: Glossary of acronyms ........................................................................ 33    Appendix 2: Original list of hazards and issues ..................................................... 34    Appendix 3: List of knowledge group members and facilitators ............................. 36 Notes .................................................................................................................... 37    Malawi2020: Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in the tea industry 3  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This report was written by Daniel Morchain, Wolfgang Weinmann, Chimwemwe Kachepa Kamala, Helen Jeans, Hyton Lefu (Oxfam), Linda Mtegha-Kawamba (Ministry of Labour of Malawi) and Edward Thole (Circle for Integrated Community Development) in August 2016.   The Steering Committee members of Malawi2020 (IDH, TAML, ETP) provided insightful inputs to the process and contributed to its analysis. Likewise, tea-buying companies and brands who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Malawi2020 provided their relevant views into the process. Last but certainly not least, the participants of the VRA workshop in Mulanje (i.e. the Knowledge Group) contributed their expertise and directly shaped the analysis of the exercise. The Malawi2020 Vulnerability Risk Assessment exercise and this report would not have been possible without the open, honest contribution of all these actors  –  the authors thank them wholeheartedly for their engagement. The Malawi2020 VRA work was co-funded by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Utrecht, Netherlands.  4 Malawi2020: Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in the tea industry EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: KEY TAKEAWAYS  After about seven months of preparation and consultation with stakeholders, a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) exercise was conducted in Mulanje in June 2016, in the context of the Malawi2020 Tea Revitalization Programme (Malawi2020), which aims to achieve a competitive, profitable tea industry that can provide living wages and living incomes for its workers by 2020. The VRA sought to address the key hazards and issues affecting people and other stakeholders in the tea- growing ‘landscape’ of Mulanje and Thyolo in Southern Malawi. The two -day workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholders: from national government representatives to estate managers to union delegates to unskilled workers of the tea industry. This group analysed and prioritized what it considered to be the main issues facing the tea industry and the people who are involved in and dependent on it. It subsequently drafted a number of suggestions to reduce the risks they face. In doing so, the exercise aimed to validate Malawi2020’s Roadmap and provide further inputs to it.  Another fundamental and strategic goal of the VRA was to open up a safe space for stakeholders to talk freely to one another and explore ways to overcome the challenges they face: common challenges that affect different stakeholders differently. This dialogue, which should be continued regularly in order to truly bring about benefits, also contributed to giving stakeholders a better understanding of the ‘big picture’ of the tea industry and the implications of each player’s roles and actions within it. The five key findings and ‘takeaways’ from the Malawi2020 VRA are:   ã  The exercise validated the Roadmap to a large extent, which is reassuring. The ways forward elaborated during the VRA in steps 2, 3 and 4 are just a sample of the many possible ways forward discussed during the two-day workshop. Conducting similar exercises in future (i.e. steps 2, 3 and 4  –  after step 1 has provided the base on which to start) could help flesh out further activities to add to the Roadmap. ã  The macro- level issues of ‘population growth’ and ‘unresolved land issues’ came up as highly relevant, and as having considerable negative impacts on several social groups. While these might seem to be beyond Malawi2020’s scope, the Steering Committee should acknowledge them and develop a joint position on how the programme will engage with these  –  directly or indirectly. ã   The ‘soft’ outcomes of the VRA –  providing dialogue spaces for stakeholders, and particularly, bringing marginalized groups into the decision-making arena of Malawi2020  –  are as important, if not more so, than the resulting analysis. The VRA exercise should not be a one-off event, and it should be followed by a stakeholder engagement strategy that truly promotes the empowerment of marginalized groups within the industry, and sets clear roles and responsibilities for Malawi2020 partners in achieving this goal. ã  Similarly, the VRA exercise revealed the need to significantly increase efforts to establish a regular dialogue with government bodies, which has been insufficient so far. This interaction is important because the goals of Malawi2020 will have repercussions beyond the tea industry (e.g. the impact of a living wage in the tea industry for other key crops, such as tobacco or cotton), and also because reaching the goals of Malawi2020 within the tea industry require and/or would benefit from a collaborative approach with government (e.g. issues of basic service provision in tea estates and in the communities outside them). ã   It was often argued during the VRA that the quality of Malawi’s tea, which is considered to be lower than that of teas from key competitor countries such as Kenya, India or Sri Lanka, was directly related to the low wages paid to labourers in Malawi’s tea industry. This correlation,
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