Improving safety and health in Madagascar lychee and textile supply chains - A Vision Zero Fund project

The Vision Zero Fund project in Madagascar seeks to increase public and private collective action aimed at fostering and enhancing concrete occupational health and safety (OHS) prevention activities in companies operating in the global textile and lychee supply chains.

The textile supply chain

In Madagascar, textile exports have been increasing steadily since 2015 and currently represent 25% of the country's exports. The sector creates 105,000 direct jobs or 30% of formal employment. The sector's working conditions are the same as those found in the textile industry in most developing countries, i. e. piecework pay that can create forced labour conditions, conflicting labour relations, repetition of fixed-term contracts, and discrimination against women in terms of wages. In addition, most companies in the sector operate under the Free Trade Zones (Free Companies) regime, which derogates from the Labour Code in a number of respects, including night work for women and overtime. With regard to occupational safety and health, protection measures and emergency care are clearly inadequate and occupational diseases are largely unknown.

The lychee supply chain

Madagascar is one of the top five producers of lychees in the world and the largest producer of lychees in the southern hemisphere. In 2015, exports of fresh lychees accounted for about 5% of the country's agricultural exports in value terms. The main occupational risks in the sector are: falls from a height (up to 5-10 meters), exposure to insect bites, sunlight and heat, carrying heavy loads, limited access to healthcare. During the treatment and preservation stages of the product, the main risks that have been identified are the carrying of heavy loads, exposure to sulfur, falling objects and fires. In general, the seasonal nature of the product, which leads to a low degree of professionalism in the sector, the absence or discontinuity of social protection and the lack of collective organisation, accentuates workers' vulnerability to occupational risks at all levels of the chain.

In order to develop an integrated approach combining prevention, protection and compensation of occupational risks in a given supply chain, the VZF first applies a methodology to identify the specific vulnerabilities in terms of occupational safety and health in the selected supply chain. In the case of the lychee sector in Madagascar, the case study was carried out and the needs and opportunities for intervention were identified in consultation with the stakeholders in the supply chain, and it is now a matter of implementing the accompanying measures. With regard to the textile sector, the VZF will first apply this research and analysis before implementing a series of interventions specifically designed for the sector and the country.