On 21 May 2020, the first International Tea Day, Oxfam in Malawi with funding from IDH and Rainforest alliance handed over sanitation items (tapped buckets, soap and chlorine) valued at K18 million to Tea Association of Malawi (TAML) to support more than 50,000 tea plantation workers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The items will support tea workers across all 150 divisions in nine tea estates in the tea growing districts of Mulanje, Thyolo and Nkhatabay.
The tea industry in Malawi is labour-intensive, employing a workforce of more than 50,000 workers. The months of March to September are also peak seasons for tea plucking, presenting a high risk of COVID-19 transmission due to the high concentration of people on the estates and in the factories.
Speaking when she presented the materials to TAML, Oxfam Country Director, Lingalireni Mihowa said: “I am pleased with the support from our partners to be able to distribute handwashing kits comprising of tapped buckets, soap and chlorine across all 150 divisions for the tea pluckers to use. We’ve also facilitated procurement of handwashing kits and masks for the PAWU leadership to use as they are going out to support the wellbeing of the tea workers.”
“The donation from Oxfam, IDH and Rainforest Alliance is not only symbolic but timely as well,” said Chairperson of TAML, Sangwani Hara. “These materials will go a long way in supporting our member companies to provide the hygiene and safety that is required during this pandemic.”
Over 50,000 tea workers supported with COVID-19 prevention kits
Since 2015, Oxfam has been working with the Plantation and Agriculture Workers Union in Malawi (PAWU) to support living wage for farmers under the Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalization Programme.
In attendance at the handover ceremony were representatives from TAML, Oxfam, PAWU, Rainforest Alliance, IDH and the media.