Early Childhood Development Centres in Rwanda
Roughly a 3 minute read
The climate and the condition of the soil in many areas of Rwanda are ideal for tea production and because of this, it is a huge part of Rwanda’s economy, and one of the largest sources of income for many people in Rwanda.
Tea production in Rwanda operates on a large-scale and the companies that own the tea estates employ a huge workforce. Women make an important contribution to the production of tea, both in the tea factories and in the field where the tea is plucked. Unfortunately, a problem that many tea estates face is maintaining enough staff to be able to pluck the tea leaves at the optimum time which helps to ensure quality and consequently a good price. One of the challenges of maintaining staff levels is a lack of access to childcare and women often have to stay at home and look after their young children rather than go back to work, leading to a loss of income.
Taylors of Harrogate, along with some of our suppliers in Rwanda, are working together to address the staff shortage within many tea estates. We have had a relationship with the Wood Foundation Africa, who run Mulindi Factory Company and Shagasha Tea Company, for many years. Between them, they work with 13,000 smallholder tea farmers and together we have collaborated on many VCI projects since 2016. Previous projects have included: improvements to the local maternity ward, supporting income diversification through the provision of pigs and cows, improving access to water through rainwater harvesting and the creation of Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs).
We continued our support of ECDs with Mulindi and Shagasha in 2022 by co-funding the construction of two ECDs, one in Mulindi on the tea estate land near the factory, and the other inside the Shagasha tea company’s estate, alongside the two that they already have. This will enable women to bring their children to the ECD’s during their working day where they will be looked after. It is also set up so that the female employees are in close proximity to their children, which allows them to attend to the child whilst at work. The centres will also be beneficial to the children’s wellbeing as they will aim to supplement education and initiate health and nutrition to improve physical development.
We also have a further four ECD projects taking place in different parts of Rwanda, such as Gisovu, Rugabano, Rubaya and Gatare, which aim to increase access to and improve existing ECDs by expanding them so that more young children can be looked after and more women can return to work. Additionally, it is hoped that this will reduce poverty rates in the community and improve the well being of the employees, not to mention the benefits for the companies that own the tea estates as the centres will enable improved attendance, which will help to increase tea production volumes. With our suppliers help, we will be measuring the change in productivity as well as the change in average household income to learn more about the long-term impact of these projects.
Looking forward, we would hope that the ECDs will contribute to long-term changes to the area, which provide young children and women with more resource and support, increase the income of women working within tea production in Rwanda and hopefully improve the lives of many individuals who form part of these communities.
Last updated 15th February 2023