Dow and Public-Private Collaboration Facilitate Ethiopia's Sustainable Fashion Industry

Published on: 05 October 2022
by KnowESG
-shutterstock 1903690807

Dow backed a three-year cooperation project with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Dutch ZDHC Foundation to develop more sustainable manufacturing processes in Ethiopia's rapidly growing fashion industry.

The project effectively paved the way for enhanced sustainable chemical and waste management practices along the textile value chain through education, training programmes, and business consultancy capabilities.

Ethiopia's textile industry is one of its most important growth industries. In recent years, Ethiopia has attracted foreign investment for new textile and garment production facilities, and several worldwide brands and retailers have relocated their textile and garment sourcing to Ethiopia.

Project leader Maimuma Hussein, Dow Industrial Solutions, said: 

"Ethiopia has the potential to become one of the leading textile and apparel hubs in Africa. Alongside this growth, there are opportunities to improve chemical management and prevent water pollution."

Cicelia van Rooi, sales director, Dow Industrial Solutions Middle East, Africa & India and Managing Director, Dow Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd, said:

"We believe that through industry collaboration and best practice knowledge sharing, we can support the textile value chain in implementing more sustainable chemical and waste management practices and make a positive social, environmental, and economic impact in Ethiopia."

The scope of the project was twofold, engaging both academia and industry stakeholders. First, the project team collaborated with the Bahir Dar University's Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology (EiTEX) to conduct a technical training programme for lecturers and create a new Chemical Management curriculum for undergraduate students. Ethiopia's Ministry of Education accepted the curriculum and made it a national programme of studies.

The second project pillar focuses on increasing factory management and worker awareness and skills to implement and maintain an effective sustainable chemical management system based on ZDHC industry best-practice guidelines. 

Sustainable chemical management consultancy capabilities were established through a network of skilled local consultants to provide ongoing and cost-effective support to local businesses and industry professionals. These companies are now ZDHC Approved Training Providers and can offer official ZDHC training programmes in Ethiopian markets.

The project was successful in establishing sustainable mechanisms for training in environmentally and ecologically responsible chemical and waste disposal. 

The first 100 university students have finished the e-learning programme, managers and operators from 20 textile factories have been trained and the implementation of improved chemical management system operations has begun. 

As the project ends, the network of seven qualified chemical management consultants will continue to provide ongoing training and on-site consultancy to businesses and industry professionals. All resources created throughout the project will be made available to educational institutions for future use.

Klaas Nuttbohm, Implementation Director of ZDHC Foundation, said: 

"We gladly worked with Dow and GIZ on this project as it directly supports our ‘Roadmap to Zero Programme,’ aimed at leading the fashion industry to eliminate harmful chemicals from its global supply chain by building the foundation for more sustainable manufacturing. Working together with local stakeholders paved the way to improved sustainable chemical and waste management practices being implemented in Ethiopia.”

Dow's Business Impact Fund contributed to the three-year project. This competitive grant programme directs corporate contributions to projects that use technology and expertise to address social issues. Funding proposals are submitted directly by Dow employees around the world, leveraging their unique skills, business knowledge, and diversity of locations and experiences.

Dow and GIZ have been collaborating under the develoPPP finance initiative, which GIZ manages on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The public and private partners pooled their knowledge and financial contributions and collaborated closely throughout the project, from project planning to the development and implementation of training and awareness-raising activities.

Source: Dow

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