Monthly Archives: May 2010

Credit to the debtors

There’s been so much going on in recent weeks and months that it’s easy to forget that over the last 5 months, Haiti has been trying to rebuild.

But SuperBadger was delighted to hear recently that more of Haiti’s debts have been cancelled! Both the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank have cancelled large chunks of debt owed to them by Haiti and made further funding available as grants, rather than loans, to aid the recovery.

Photo: Richard Hanson/Tearfund

On 22 March, the IADB cancelled debts of $441 million owed to by Haiti. The IADB is the largest source of development financing in Latin America, and was the largest creditor to Haiti. This cancellation will clearly make a huge impact on Haiti’s ability to recover in the coming years. On top of this, the IADB have also pledged over $2 billion in grants to Haiti over the next decade!

A week later, the international community came together at the donor’s conference and pledged $5.3 billion to fund the initial phase of Haiti’s reconstruction over the next 18 months. As part of this, the World Bank cancelled Haiti’s remaining debt of $39 million.  

SuperBadger hopes these will be precedents for highly indebted countries hit by disasters in future – many of them are prone to disasters, so this is a situation that’s highly likely to happen again.

All of this is fantastic news, and SuperBadger is hopeful that Haiti’s other creditors will  follow the lead of the IADB and World Bank, to ensure that the country’s recovery and reconstruction isn’t hampered by crippling debt repayments. You might remember that back in January, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, we badgered the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Tear Up the IOU and release Haiti from their crippling debts of $890 million, as well as also urging the UK government to cancel all outstanding debts. The IMF has agreed to cancel these debts, but we still haven’t heard the details of the deal. As soon as details are released, SuperBadger will let you all know. Hopefully it will be more good news!

Tea-totally unacceptable

Last month, hundreds of you badgered Typhoo, asking them to become an entirely Fairtrade brand. We know that Fairtrade is the only system that independently guarantees farmers a fair price for their products, whilst also helping communities to develop in a sustainable way. Big tea companies like Typhoo have the power to improve the lives of thousands of tea farmers all around the world, by investing in the local communities in which they work.

So SuperBadger wasn’t very happy when he received a reply from Typhoo a few weeks ago that suggested that Typhoo weren’t too keen on switching to being a Fairtrade brand any time soon. SuperBadger was particularly concerned that the reply stated that:

“we [Typhoo] also believe that our customers should be allowed the opportunity to freely choose between Fair-trade accredited products and standard products, which is why we offer both.”

As a number of SuperBadger’s friends have said on the discussion board, who would prefer to buy a product that has been produced in unacceptable and unjust conditions, when there is a Fairtrade alternative available?

Whilst SuperBadger welcomes Typhoo’s commitment to double the number of Fairtrade products sold over the next year, it’s a shame that they haven’t committed to working with Fairtrade to ensure that all their products are Fairtrade accredited. Rather than working within their own certification rules, why don’t Typhoo commit to working to achieve full Fairtrade-accreditation on all their products, accreditation that is recognised and respected world-wide, and helps thousands of people out of poverty.

As always, do visit http://apps.facebook.com/superbadger to see the latest actions you can take.

Here is the full response from Typhoo:

_______________________________________________________

Dear Customer

I am writing with regards to your recent correspondence requesting that Typhoo become a Fair-trade labelled tea. We fully understand your concerns and would like to highlight that, whilst Typhoo wholeheartedly support the Fair-trade movement and would endorse any initiatives that ensure that tea workers situations are improved, we actually operate differently from all of our competitors in how we source tea.

At Typhoo tea, we are committed to ensuring that we trade fairly with all the tea estates that we buy tea from. We are uniquely placed in the Tea industry and demonstrate our commitment through trading fairly with tea estates in two ways; firstly to support the Fair-trade foundation by using Fair-trade tea with our Ridgways brand; secondly to use our Typhoo certification scheme to monitor the tea gardens we buy from are continuously improving fair labour standards (measured against the ETI base code), health & safety, quality and food safety, and sustainable environmental practices.

An example of how our certification scheme works is in the Makandi estate in Malawi where we have worked closely with the estate to deliver significant benefits including the introduction of terms and conditions for workers, greater wage transparency, improvements to housing, sanitation and access to water, as well as a focus on the elimination of discrimination against women and illegal disciplinary practices.

Over the next 12 months we intend to double the number of Fair-trade products we sell, clearly demonstrating our commitment to the Fair-trade organisation for the long term. However, we also believe that our customers should be allowed the opportunity to freely choose between Fair-trade accredited products and standard products, which is why we offer both.

In addition to this, you have probably noticed recently on our packs that we are working very closely with the Federation of Disability Sport. We have developed a Typhoo Sports for All programme with them that provides community sports coaches with a qualification giving them the skills necessary to included disabled people in their coaching sessions. So far we have trained 1000 coaches across the whole of the UK which has given thousands of disabled people the opportunity to take part in the sports and games they love. So, you can see, that not only do we work closely with tea plantation workers around the globe; we carry out some very worthwhile activities closer to home too.

UNESC-UH-OH!

Normally, awarding a prize of $3 million to reward people for research and work that improves the quality of human life would be heralded as a great thing. However, the prize that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is supporting isn’t drawing the plaudits you might expect it to.

That’s because it is funded by the director of the oil-rich West African country of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, who presides over an appalling record of human rights violations and corruption.

Equatorial Guinea has seen rising economic prosperity due to growing oil revenues. However, an increase in government revenue hasn’t led to a similar rise in living standards. This is due in large part to the corruption taking place in the country – a fact reflected in Equatorial Guinea’s position (168th out of 180) in the corruption index.

The actions of Teodoro Obiang contradict and seriously undermine what UNESCO stands for, and the good work that it is doing all over the world. Continued support of this prize also sends the wrong message to leaders in a similar position to Obiang, suggesting that they can get away with poor records in their countries if they support such initiatives

This is a really important opportunity to make a stand against corruption, human rights violations and the dictators who allow them to happen. Badger the Director of UNESCO to cancel the prize, and ensure that in the future, award donations are given the proper scrutiny needed.

As always, you can check out the latest badger actions by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/superbadger – Happy Badgering!