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Kitman - Fair Trade Projects Provide Safe Water for Local Community

Sri Lankan Fair Trade Rubber Project

Kitman, who is 67 years old, is still working full-time as a rubber tapper on the Frocester Plantation in Sri Lanka. 

By local standards, Kitman is a successful man; all of his seven sons have found work in the capital Colombo, which is two hours away by bus. The eldest is in charge of a small business, two have become tailors, two work as drivers and two are employed as shop assistants. One of his daughters is a teacher and the other works as a rubber tapper on the same plantation as her father.

Kitman has managed to improve the basic accommodation provided by the plantation with the family’s combined savings, to the extent that the basic structure of what once was called battery housing is hardly noticeable. The house at present is occupied by nine people; Kitman and his wife, three of his daughters-in-law and two grandchildren, as well as his daughters. Previously, the house had one major drawback - there was no running water. This has to be fetched from an open well, 100 yards across the village road.

According to the medical officer of the plantation, many people in the area suffer from dysentery and other water-borne diseases as a result from the lack of a safe water supply. This is where our new Fairtrade rubber project came in. In an agreement with the plantation owners, our sourcing partners ordered rubber for its ETHLETIC trainers and paid a Fair Trade premium of 0.50 EUR per KG of rubber. Subsequently, the management and the workers established a Fair Trade Welfare Society and jointly decided how this money should be spent. One project on which the money was spent was the installation of a pump and a piping system, so that 20 households around the well will each get a tap in front of their homes, including Kitman’s household. 

The other major Fair Trade project agreed was the restoration of a common room for the workers, a canteen area and a unit with sanitary toilets.  A place where workers, mostly women, can change into their working clothes and keep food safely was also agreed. All of these projects were paid for by Fair Trade premiums; hopefully there will be many more to come that will improve the living and working conditions of workers, their families and the community. 

Check out our other Fair Trade stories or more information on Fair Trade to help Kitman and people like him. 

Published 11/10/11

Photo(s) ® M.Kunz Fair Deal Trading
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