Save the Children Hong Kong Joins Sri Lanka’s Ethical Tea Program

Monday 23 March 2015

Save the Children Hong Kong recently became the first Save the Children Member to provide financial support to the Mother and Child Friendly Estates Ethical Tea Certification in Sri Lanka. This program is designed to make good nutrition good business in the tea industry.

Save the Children is working with the Ministry of Plantation Industries, the Planters Association, tea brokers and labor to create a value proposition for Ceylon Tea – That it is the finest tea in the world, grown ethically and responsibly. His value proposition will translate into a carbon neural foot print and assured high standards of maternal and child health and nutrition on the estates.

The health and nutrition of women and their under-five year olds on tea estates has historically lagged behind that of other women and children in Sri Lanka. Mothers and under five year olds living on the tea estates have traditionally had higher rates of anemia and their children higher rates of stunting than other populations in Sri Lanka. Investigations by Save the Children and others have found the problems arise from a lack of knowledge and access, leading to low utilization of services and reliance on traditional practices. A contributing factor is lack of access to clean water and sanitary facilities leading to diarrhea and water borne diseases. In addition, while many estates provide crèches and pre-schools, they are poorly equipped and staffed. Poor infant and child care at the crèches and ECCD centers contribute to stunting.

The project will directly address the issues of maternal and child health by improving knowledge, practice and awareness among estate workers including husbands. It will promote exclusive breast feeding and child health and nutrition. Maternal and child health and nutrition educational materials will be printed in the language of the pluckers (Tamil) and distributed on estates. It will provide 40 Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centers with furniture, equipment and repairs. The activities of this project will be used to further creation of a sustainable standard of maternal and child health, nutrition and care on the tea estates. This standard is under development with key actors in the Sri Lankan tea industry and institutional donors. It will lead to a certification process that will be used as a marketing device at the retail level to differentiate Sri Lankan tea as tangibly ethical and desirable. The total SC Hong Kong donation from its Gala Fund Raising event as well as unrestricted donations is expected to exceed $700,000 in 2015.