Does Fairtrade make a real impact on the lives of farmers and workers in Africa? It seems a straightforward question but the answer is not that simple. What are the criteria for monitoring producers' progress? The premium benefits? Or how Fairtrade has changed the management of producer organisations? And how do you measure producer empowerment?
As monitoring and evaluation are becoming increasingly important in the development sector, Fairtrade Africa set up three workshops in Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire and Ethiopia to hear from producers themselves about Fairtrade's impact on their lives and businesses. The participants also discussed what data they already collect.
'Producer organisations are already gathering information as a result of Fairtrade certification but most do not have the capacity to collect data on the wider impact around empowerment and livelihoods,' says Catharine Russell from Fairtrade Africa. 'Through the workshops the participants identified several challenges that hinder data collection which we can now start addressing.'