Globally, countries continue to implement stringent measures to manage the spread of the pandemic from COVID-19. As cases globally continue to grow, the demand for protective equipment also increases, such as the masks which, in the case of Kennya, must be worn in public spaces.
As a result, Kenya, like many other countries, is trying to respond to this challenge of obtaining adequate devices for the health of workers and the population. To fill the production gap, many companies have moved to convert part of their production and, among them, Oserian Development Company Limites , a Fairtrade certified flower producer located on Lake Naivasha.
Following the revision of the Standard in March which allows greater flexibility in the use of the Fairtrade Award , Oserian has chosen to start producing the masks for its workers, employees and community members . He placed this unit in the community room and started production with a group of 36 tailors.
Of these, 22 are employees of the floriculture company who have developed this type of expertise through short courses paid for with the Fairtrade Award fund. Since the collapse of the flower market has forced many of them to leave work, those involved could not be happier with the opportunity to find such an important job.
“I trained as a seamstress at the Kenya Institute of Develoment Studies. Many thanks to Oserian for the measures he has taken to counter the threat of COVID-19. Making masks is a task that will allow us to protect our family and our companies “says Joyce Irungu , one of the seamstresses.
“It is a hectic job but I feel happier. I am happy to be helpful and to help the nation fight coronavirus through my skills, “says Joseph Kakai , a tailor who is working on this project. They say that making masks is helping them improve their craft skills and earn some money during these difficult times. According to production manager David Kamau ,the project started to reduce the purchase cost of the face masks .
“On average, buying masks on the market is more expensive than making them locally. It is the 27 cents per mask which means 1733 euros for 5860 pieces that we have planned to produce, “he says.
The masks are made of tetron cotton which can be worn and washed many times. Another material that is used is the canvas which is placed in the intermediate layer and acts as a filter. Kamau says the company’s health center visits all the tailors for any COVID-19 symptoms. Before starting this work, they also receive training to ensure the production of high quality masks according to the standards of the Ministry of Health.
Wearing the masks is one of the strategies that the company is implementing to control the spread of COVID-19. All workers, employees and community members are receiving masks for free. “ We appreciate the fact that Fairtrade is flexible . Now we can make decisions faster and this allows us to better manage the emergency. This will allow us, in the long term, to cushion the impact on workers who could lose their wages due to the market crash, “says Julius Kigamba , who is in charge of the compliance processes of Oserian Development Company Ltd