Posts

Oxfam Fair Trade
Coffee is the second most-traded commodity and one of the most consumed drinks around the world. The consumption of coffee is a universal business within its own, for its demand is incredibly high worldwide. Drinking coffee has become almost second nature to many who can afford it. American author and journalist, Sarah Vowell, says that she realized that drinking a mocha, although seemingly trivial, was in fact “to gulp down the entire history of the New World.” She continues on to say that the modern mocha is nothing less than a “bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”

Taken into consideration how big of a role coffee plays in people’s lives today, one would think that people would know where their coffee was coming from and what kind of conditions it was produced in. However, the truth is to the contrary because many people have no idea what conditions coffee producers undergo. Approximately 25 million farmers depend on coffee production/sales to make their living, and many of them live in poverty. The coffee market is prone to severe fluctuations due to changes in climate which in turn affect the growth patterns of coffee plants. Due to the longevity of the growth of coffee plants, producers cannot react quickly to changes in coffee demand. Thus, this is where smart consumers can help poor people, and in particular, coffee producers.

As smart informed consumers, people can buy certified fair trade coffee which basically means that farmers and coffee producers are paid a fair and stable price regardless of changing conditions. A recent Oxfam Australia survey reports that more than 85% of consumers want more fair trade products in their supermarkets, and 60% believe that their consumer decisions can make a difference in the lives of producers and farmers in less-developed countries. Marcial Valladolid, from CACVRA, which is a small producer organization in Peru, expressed how coffee cultivation used to disappoint him because the money he made was not remotely close to cover the cost of his coffee production. CACVRA uses its fair trade premium to “support and improve organic cultivation and certification.” By joining this cooperative, Marcel is content that he was able to receive some profit, and he is hopeful for a future with more fair trade.

It is no wonder that coffee was once described by Neil Gaiman as “sweet as sin,” taking into account all the producers and farmers horribly affected by our enjoyment of their produce. Majority of coffee producers live in developing countries including Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Luckily, our enjoyment can come as a better price as the conditions can change because certified fair trade products are becoming increasingly available and accessible through independent grocers, major supermarkets, and retail stores. Thus, making the switch to becoming a smart consumer could not be any easier today. Make the switch today and change people’s lives.

– Leen Abdallah

Sources: AU News, Good Reads
Photo: Google, Google

harry-halo_pakistan_horn_of_africa_global_poverty_halo_trust_usaid_international_aid__opt

Foreign aid organizations are often thought of as those that provide supplies of food, water, and medicine to those around the world who need it. The HALO Trust, however, was set up to improve the process of relief as well as defend civilians. The HALO Trust was formed in March 1988 in order to provide assistance to those in areas of war (Pakistan and the Horn of Africa) that were scattered with anti-personnel landmines.

Since 1988, the HALO staff in Afghanistan has grown to over 3,600, and has cleared over 700,000 mines from fields and stockpiles. HALO’s programs have reached many other countries as well such as Cambodia, Mozambique, Chechnya, Georgia, and more recently Sri Lanka and Colombia. As the “world’s oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization”, HALO is leading the way in making war zones safe for civilians and for transport of goods and services through trade. Their policy of “Road Threat Reduction” has since cleared 5,196 km of anti-tank mines off of roads in Angola.

HALO Trust also supports links between their usual mine clearance and development initiatives. Because these mines make it more difficult for development actors to visit and aid them, they are especially in need of help rebuilding their villages. First, however, mines need to be cleared in order to have safe ways to raise livestock and prevent killing or maiming of civilians. Their policy is to link development to demining, rather than demining to development.

While demining is their major effort, they also train their promoted staff as paramedics in order to make comprehensive medical knowledge a part of every team. Their funds are allocated to certain teams for a certain period of time as well as being spent on equipment and other expenses. Each donor ends up knowing exactly what they funded in terms of mines destroyed, amount of land cleared, and number of people that have benefited. Administration salaries are paid with an extra administration charge given to institutional donors.

Overall, the organization is a great help to those living in war zones, and continues to clear mines and work across the world to ensure the safety of civilians.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: HALO Trust
Photo: Telegraph