Press Release | 20 May. 2020

ITC continues to empower women in West Africa amid COVID-19 pandemic


The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is having a profound impact on economic activity across the world, and increasingly is some of the most vulnerable economies. As the pandemic continues to fuel global disruption, emerging research indicates that women’s productive and economic lives will be disproportionately affected. The compounded economic effects of the ongoing crisis are felt especially by women because they generally earn less, hold insecure und more unpaid jobs, consequently making them less resilient to such shocks.

For West African countries, plummeting worldwide demand is causing a slowdown in major economic sectors, including in the food supply chains. Faced with such challenges, the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades West Africa project has embarked on leveraging alternative approaches in its efforts to improve the livelihoods of 10,000 women.

Funded by the Government of South Korea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the SheTrades West Africa project is supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and women farmers in the cashew, cassava and shea sectors in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Cashew farmers in Cote d’Ivoire are already feeling the pinch of the pandemic, witnessing an unprecedented drop in cashew consumption, which is directly affecting their livelihoods.

Tuo Kolotcholoman, a cashew farmer, states: ‘Every year we harvest and sell cashew from February to the end of April. This year we cannot sell our cashew after harvesting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are now holding onto our stock as there is no demand. Buying stopped one month ago. Cashew along with cotton are the main sources of income in our region so this is risking our livelihoods.’

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