Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fair Trade for Bolga

Fair Trade is an interesting concept. Although we understand its general meaning, it remains a challenging task to come up with a viable definition. For example, you could say that Fair Trade is a process which wishes to bring around positive economic change by implementing favourable working conditions and fair prices. Nevertheless the particulars surrounding ‘favourable’, ‘positive’ and ‘’fair’ are subject to mass interpretation. Such dilemmas have become natural to the fifth TradeAID Integrated cohort who has been working hard to establish a Fair Trade Town campaign for Bolgatanga.

 Perhaps the main surprise in our research was the diversity of Fair Trade organisations. As part of a much larger extensive structural web of Fair Trade, the Fair Trade Town Organisation (FTT) aims to acknowledge good practice of Fair Trade by awarding applicable communities recognition as Fair Trade Towns. Now standing at over 1424 Fair Trade Towns worldwide, the movement has made great progress during its 13 years in existence!

Given that Bolgatanga is known for its good business practice, vibrant talented craft sector and popular community spirit we thought that engaging with FFT would be an amazing opportunity to help build Bolgatanga the economic success it deserves. In particular, we believed that Fair Trade Town status would increase networking opportunities, foster community consensus and expand awareness. In the long term these benefits would also contribute towards TradeAID’s ultimate objective of empowering the poor and eradicating poverty through economic means.

FFT’s expansion into the global South is a relatively new concept; there currently only being three Fair Trade Towns in the developing world! Subsequently we were happy to learn about the flexible and emerging process regarding recognition. Typically, Fair Trade Town status is monitored by national bodies, status being declared once communities have surveyed and implemented a series of five Fair Trade goals. In the case of Bolgatanga however, we were surprised to learn that we could create our own goals and effectively self-declare recognition. This would nevertheless be subject to ratification from a newly formed local committee and the movement’s international coordinating body, the international steering committee. If Bolgatanga’s campaign is successful it could also be potentially used as a model for future Fair Trade Towns in the developing world!

After conducting research into Bolgatanga’s specific economic situation, examining goals from other Fair Trade Towns in the developing world, consulting the local community and integrating TradeAID’s related projects, we drafted a series of five goals for the campaign. They are as follows:

·         Establish a Partnership Agreement with a UK Fair Trade Town
·         A Resident Cooperative Exists that Sells into the Fair Trade Market  
·         Fair Trade is Promoted Throughout Community Organisations
·         An Annual Event is held to promote local business and Fair Trade at Regional, 
           National and International Levels
·         A Steering Committee is set up to Coordinate Fair Trade Status, Monitor            
           Implementation and Promote Future Events

We have been making progress on all five of the goals. Specifically we believed that in light of FTT’s grassroots and bottom up approach, it was important to involve the community with the campaign as soon as possible. Consequently we set the fifth goal of establishing a steering committee as a priority. This involved organising a series of meetings with prominent business leaders, local politicians and local community representatives, who were also invited to join the committee. Perhaps the most important event we arranged was an introductory meeting to establish the committee which included an information session and presentation on Fair Trade. It was really good to see our efforts formulate in a more practical manner and convey our campaign to the public.

Now that responsibility is beginning to be handed over to the community, it will be really interesting to see its development and impact on the community. Fair Trade will be an important cornerstone of future TradeAID projects and as an International Service volunteer, it has been a pleasure setting the foundations. On a more personal note, after educating myself about the movement I have come to understand the importance and significance of Fair Trade and will strive to incorporate it into my daily life back home.  

Your Bloggers today were: Alastair and Emily

1 comment:

  1. very nice am from Ghana and live in Accra and will be glad to join this