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      22 April 2020

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      The Waitrose & Partners Foundation has unlocked £200,000 from its Global Fund to protect farming communities overseas adversely affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative was launched to support its most vulnerable suppliers and provide financial aid to over 100,000 workers during this unprecedented period.

      The package will include £88,000 in support to Waitrose’s suppliers in Kenya, with whom Farm Africa has been working since partnering with the Waitrose & Partners Foundation in 2017.

      Together, Farm Africa and the Waitrose & Partners Foundation have been creating better livelihoods for workers and their families that grow, pick and package Waitrose’s fresh produce across seven farms in Kenya. The joint project has been improving health and wellbeing facilities of 12,000 employees and their families, increasing their access to water and sanitation facilities and supporting their learning through training and school feeding programmes.

      The new funds will help develop healthcare and sanitation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect farm workers. They will also be used to improve workers’ access to essential services such as healthcare and childcare and support those on reduced earnings through food packages.

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      Photos: Adrienne Pitts

      Rupert Thomas, Director of Food & Grocery at Waitrose, commented:

      “This pandemic poses the greatest humanitarian and economic threat of our generation and, whilst we face many difficult decisions, as a collective industry we must continue to look at ways we can help to protect people and their livelihoods during this unprecedented time. The measures we have put in place are just the start and we will continue to do everything we can to provide support to our suppliers and the people who form part of them, particularly those that are most vulnerable.”

      Due to uncertainty around the longer-term impact of COVID-19, the foundation has also reserved emergency funding to provide ongoing to support communities and ensure the stability of its supply chain, should this be needed.

      Peter Ndungu, Project Coordinator at Farm Africa, commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Kenyan farm workers hard. The funding from the Waitrose & Partners Foundation will help farm workers to safely implement social distancing and gain access to essential services for their families during the crisis.”

      
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