Total Energies and its partners in the MzLNG project support community initiative to produce certified fabric face masks locally, and stimulate job creation for informal workers in Mozambique

As witnessed globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically shaken the global landscape for business, people’s livelihoods and the growth of economies.

Developing countries specifically, have been significantly impacted, dealing with an array of already challenging circumstances from poor healthcare systems to rising unemployment, reduced business creation opportunities and limited formal infrastructure often needed to stimulate growth. Mozambique has without a doubt been one of the countries hardest hit during this pandemic.

As in the case of most pandemics and global crises, the informal workforce have been left particularly vulnerable as the majority of these individuals do not have access to adequate health care facilities, are to a large extent unable to comply with social restrictions and world hygiene guidelines given their living conditions and many have lost their ability to generate an income. Without any means to earn an income during mobility restrictions in the country, many are unable to feed themselves or provide for the dependents around them.

As informal workers in Mozambique comprise of a large percentage of the workforce in the country, this has created a serious and ever-increasing problem, with severe short-term challenges and potentially catastrophic long-term implications for sustainability and growth of the economy.

With unique challenges being faced on many fronts and immediate problems needing to be solved with urgency, several likeminded partners from the private and public sector saw the crisis as an opportunity for true collaboration and problem solving; An opportunity to unite and utilize skill sets and resources at their disposal to work together for the common good of Mozambique.

Each partner, albeit different in industries, skills set and focus, played an integral role in creating and demonstrating a solution to the problems being faced by Mozambique with regards to COVID-19. As you prepare to come off clomid, you will need to anxiety medication gabapentin discuss how to get the medication. The generic Thiruvananthapuram dr tess lawrie ivermectin version is manufactured by bayer ag and sold under the brand names levitra® and its newer version levitra® x. It is also available as eye drops, powder, tablet in the stromectol adc form of capsules, injections, and nasal spray. Valtrex is generic from where we buy valtrex online?valtrex has been available online over the last stromectol order online 12 years. You can easily https://fdruryandsons.co.uk/95767-stromectol-australia-pbs-83953/ save more money by buying the cheapest available quantity of tinidazole hydrochloride instead of buying all of the same amount in one. These problems include the health of the most vulnerable Mozambican citizens, stimulation and mobilization of the informal workforce with the ability to earn a wage whilst developing a new skillset and lastly, for the economy to benefit financially in the form of taxes derived from the transactions being conducted.

In 2020, TotalEnergies Mozambique Area 1, Lda, hereinafter referred to as TEPMA1,  was interested in determining what capacity of local PPE was available in the country to combat COVID-19 and support individuals in complying with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards of mask wearing. Given this, TEPMA1 launched and pioneered their own initiative to obtain the data.  They were confident that they would be able to assist with the certification process in South Africa, should the right production and implementation partners be involved in the project.

As part of the research and surveys conducted by TEPMA1 of local producers in the country able to produce masks to the required international standards of WHO, TEPMA1identified Karingana wa Karingana; a Mozambican Textiles Company that was supporting small scale mask production for end consumers and communities.

With Karingana wa Karingana on board, TEPMA1secured samples of their masks and sent them to South Africa for certification according to WHO standards.  The necessary quality and compliance certificates were granted with a filtrage of 82%, using the three-layered cloth guidelines from WHO. This was a huge win for the project and the first step to achieving the ultimate goal of demonstrating that skilled workers in rural communities could create face masks in bulk to curb the spread of COVID-19, while generating much-needed income to support their families.

The WHO certification secured by TEPMA1, led the way for the launch of the groundbreaking and first of it’s kind project termed The Crowdsourcing Face Masks from Informal Workers Project; a collaboration and partnership between FSDMoç (Financial Sector Deepening Mozambique), UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities), UX Information Technologies and KwK (Karingana wa Karingana). Each partner involved in the project had a key role to play to ensure that all the objectives and deliverables were met and that an effective and successful case study could be demonstrated through their collaboration.

The project was heavily influenced by the concept of a distributed workforce where workers are dispersed geographically and connected through technology, akin to the remote work practice that has become commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

                                                          Mask Production Kit

For this project, Karingana wa Karingana designed and manufactured the template kits used for mask production as approved by WHO and ensured that these kits were made available for the workforce that would be involved in the project. Karingana wa Karingana also provided remote support to the workers for the duration of the project.

To ensure as many skilled informal workers could be involved in the project, which would lead to mass production and financial benefit for those most affected by the pandemic, UX Information Technologies presented the perfect solution to identify and manage the workforce. Through the use of Biscate; a UX custom developed platform that uses technology to service 38 000 informal workers in 18 professions throughout Mozambique, including 1 202 tailors and seamstresses, the project team were able to contact workers in Gaza (Xai-Xai), Manica (Chimoio) and Nampula (Nampula City) to survey if they had access to their own sewing machines, a mobile money account, and were       interested in participating in the programme.  Priority in worker selection was given to people with disabilities and women, since they are the most vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the least represented in the informal labor force. Those that fit the criteria and agreed to participate were directed to a focal point in their location to collect their sample kits from Karingana wa Karingana.

                     Tailor Mateus Fernando, Manica Province

With a committed workforce in place and template kits available, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities) contributed funds and focal points on the target locations to receive the kits, distribute them to the workers, validate the quality of the finished products, and distribute them to the local communities. This was a critical role to ensure that all the face masks being produced were quality controlled and that the finished products reached those most in need; benefitting the poorest visiting rural health clinics and other community meeting points.

As a final and crucial component to the process and project, FSDMoç (Financial Sector Deepening Mozambique); a facility for financial sector development with a focus on expanding levels of inclusion, assisted with fund disbursement and project management, allowing the resources to be made available when needed and monitoring the project implementation. On completion of the facemask production and validation of the facemasks in compliance with the template kit and WHO guidelines at the focal points, the laborers were paid immediately via the transfer of money from the Biscate platform into an M-Pesa mobile money wallet. Not only did this enable many laborers who had previously been financially excluded, to receive funds but the immediacy of payments contributed greatly to worker satisfaction. By utilizing a platform like Biscate for the distribution of funds, it enabled the team to maintain a registry of all transactions and calculate taxes to be paid to the government for the work produced by these informal workers, effectively formalizing their work and demonstrating the potential for digital payments to drive financial inclusion.

       Face Masks Produced

Between November 2020 and December 2020, the project produced 3 000 WHO compliant face masks to combat COVID-19 in Mozambique. In total, 16 workers from Gaza, Manica, and Nampula were paid an average of 3,500 MZN for a week of work (100 masks produced), which is equivalent to 3x the minimum wage in the country.

During 2021, an additional 7 000 masks were produced involving additional tailors from the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Manica, Nampula, Zambezia and Cabo Degado.

The Crowdsourcing Face Masks from Informal Workers Project has not only been an incredible success but proves that a committed group of partners, when aligned to a common purpose and goal, can achieve what most would say is impossible.  This project has demonstrated that collaboration is key to success, that informal economies have the ability to become formalized, that technology and a diverse workforce can work symbiotically, that entrepreneurship when leveraged and supported can greatly assist a Nation in solving complex problems and most importantly, in the midst of a crisis, there is always opportunity.

 

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Author
Denise Alves

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