At a glance:

  • GIZ has been commissioned by BMZ to implement the COVID-19 Emergency Aid for Fair Trade in more than 30 producing countries. The BMZ has provided a total of EUR 19.5 million for this purpose.
  • The initiative is being implemented in cooperation with Fairtrade (Germany and International), Forum Fairer Handel e.V. and Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V..
  • The aim is to reduce the emergency of smallholder farmers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with direct and rapid relief measures and to contain the spread of the virus.
  • In addition, the business activities of the producers and their organisations are to be ensured through the assumption of operating costs and the implementation of various training courses.

In the western hinterland of Kenya, not far from the shores of Lake Victoria, there is located the small village of Setek. As in many other villages in this region, coffee is the main source of income for the inhabitants of Setek. The dark brown coffee powder, as you can find it attractively and airtight packed in every supermarket in Europe, begins its long journey in the coffee supply chain here in Setek as a coffee cherry on a coffee tree.

Coffee as a livelihood

But the cultivation of coffee in Setek is not only important as a source of income. In recent years, it has also contributed to gender equality. Supported by workshops of Fairtrade International (FI), the local women founded the initiative "Women in Coffee", whose aim is to improve the living and working conditions of women in coffee cultivation. After a long time, they were also able to possess their own plants and share in the yield. This went hand in hand with independence and participation.


The most important facts in brief:

The COVID-19 Emergency Aid for Fair Trade runs from October 2020 to March 2023.

It aims to reach a total of 375 producers and producer organisations with 650,000 smallholder farmers.

The initiative has the following key objectives:

1. emergency aid to alleviate the socio-economic hardship caused by COVID-19.

2. measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

3. measures to ensure business continuity and resilience of producer organisations.


The COVID-19 emergency aid for Fair Trade is divided into three strands:

o the Fund for Fair Trade Forum Producer Partners

o the fund for the producer partners of Fairtrade International

o the fund for value chain with the German Welthungerhilfe e.V.

Just when we were well on the way towards equality, the COVID-19 pandemic made it almost impossible to carry on as usual. In Setek, the markets had to be closed, the processing of coffee cherries limited, and as a result part of the harvest inevitably destroyed. The Fair Trade Initiative supports smallholder farmers in more than 30 countries of the Global South who are directly involved in Fair Trade supply chains through the production of agricultural commodities and who are affected by the pandemic, in some cases with a considerable loss of income.

All in all, the  pandemic is not only endangering the health of people in Africa, Latin America and Asia - it is also putting the economies there to the test.

Film impressions from Kenia

Our partner Fairtrade International offers exclusive insights into the affected regions. Here, for example, from coffee farmer Caroline from Kenya. "In the past, we women were not allowed to grow coffee. They were completely dependent on their husbands. Now they can invest their own money by selling their own coffee."

Briefly Presented:

The COVID-19 Emergency Aid Initiative for Fair Trade is a commission of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is implemented in cooperation with the partners Forum Fairer Handel e.V., Welthungerhilfe e.V. and Fairtrade International. The program aims to help smallholder farmers in more than 30 countries who are involved in the Fair Trade supply chains. The aim is not only to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect people, but also to ensure economic operations.

The COVID-19 emergency aid benefits, among others, the people in the regions of Keneme, Kono and Kailahun in the east of the African coastal state of Sierra Leone. These regions are among the world's largest cultivation areas for organic cocoa. A large part of the population lives from this business. The measures for these regions were designed by Welthungerhilfe and are currently being implemented by WHH, financed through a grant agreement with GIZ. They reach approximately 90,000 people in Sierra Leone who earn their living by cultivating agricultural products.


What has been achieved so far?

So far, the COVID-19 emergency aid has reached about 570 producer organisations and about 870,000 smallholder farmers in 37 countries.

The Forum Fairer Handel's fund for producer partners currently serves 73 applications for support in 16 countries.  More than 2.5 million euros are reaching the organisations concerned. Sofar, approximately 50,000 smallholder farmers have been reached, whose production ranges from mangos in Burkina Faso, spices and tea in India to coffee and cocoa in Peru.

Producers reached through the Fairtrade International (FI) Producer Partner Fund must have Fairtrade certification. To implement these aid measures, GIZ has concluded a contract with FI for 8.1 million euros, which has so far reached 494 producer organisations and over 700,000 smallholders. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, procurement and distribution of hygiene and health items are among the activities carried out.

FI has also launched a documentary series showing the direct impact of the pandemic on smallholder communities. All episodes can be seen on the web at the following link:

GIZ was also able to contribute to a positive development in Sierra Leone. Here, two grant agreements were concluded with Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V. (WHH), which covers a sum of  about 3 million euros.  In both project phases, the focus lies on promoting the cultivation, processing and marketing of organically produced cocoa. So far around 15,000 smallholder households with a total of 90,000 members have benefited from the measures implemented.

In Ethiopia, WHH promotes the cultivation and local processing of coffee. To maintain the coffee value chain in the Jimma region during the COVID-19 pandemic, GIZ signed a grant agreement with WHH for one million euros. 11.000 smallholder households with approximately 55.000 members are to be reached through this. The relevant measures include training on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) with a focus on sustainable farm management, yield increase, processing and storage, as well as measures to improve and expand WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) systems in the villages of the project region.
Since December 2021, WHH has also been implementing a project to promote the coffee value chain in the Mahagi region in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For this, GIZ has signed a grant agreement with WHH for 1.8 million euros. By mid-2022, 52.000 smallholder farmers are to be supported through this. The project focuses on capacity building for the local coffee cooperative Kawa Maber.

This project was commissioned through the SEWOH Fund for the promotion of innovation in the agricultural and food sector and is implemented by the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains