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COVID-19 crisis

Germany supports two million textile workers in Asia and Africa

German Development Minister Gerd Müller visiting the textile factory Tivoli Apparels Ltd. on February 25, 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Press release of 07.09.2020 |

BERLIN – As part of its Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme, the German Development Ministry (BMZ) is supporting over two million workers in textile factories in Asia and Africa. In consultation with the German Labour Ministry, it was agreed today that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would be mandated to stabilise the economically important textiles sector in seven countries that have been particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to implement measures aimed at offering employees better protection against COVID-19 infection.

"The coronavirus crisis is hitting the poorest countries especially hard," said Development Minister Gerd Müller. "Global supply chains have collapsed. Millions of people have lost their jobs overnight. The textiles sector is particularly affected. Many customers – including European companies – cancelled contracts point blank. Without basic social protection or benefits for workers whose hours have been cut, people have literally been left with nothing. And the factories often do not have any measures in place to protect workers from getting infected with the virus. In this difficult situation, we are supporting seven countries that have been particularly hard hit by assisting them in their efforts to stabilise the economically important textiles sector. With this support in the amount of 14.5 million euros we will be helping two million people. For example, young mothers and workers particularly at risk of falling into poverty will receive one-off support payments. And we are building up testing capacities in order to protect workers' health. With these measures we are making it possible to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs. For this we are working with the International Labour Organization's Vision Zero Fund, which we initiated together with the German Labour Ministry. The measures are part of our global Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme."

The project is being implemented in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, Ethiopia and Madagascar. It is part of the multi-donor ILO programme "Protecting garment sector workers: occupational safety and health and income support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic", in which the private sector is also involved.

With its Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme, the German Development Ministry is engaging in a massive effort to strengthen health infrastructure, improve food security and promote job-saving measures in developing countries.

  • In Iraq we are building four temporary hospitals for 14,000 patients. With this measure we are also doubling the country's intensive care capacities.
  • We are distributing over 1 million COVID-19 tests in African countries. That makes us the second-biggest donor after the World Health Organization in this regard.
  • Together with VW and BMW we are converting factories in South Africa into temporary hospitals, thus creating thousands of hospital beds and hundreds of mobile oxygen facilities for COVID-19 patients. German companies are making an enormous demonstration of solidarity in this crisis.
  • Together with the World Food Programme, UNICEF and German aid organisations we are securing food and medicines for millions of children.
  • In Ethiopia our experts are helping to reconfigure textile production lines so that five million protective masks can be manufactured. This means that thousands of female garment workers who would otherwise have lost their jobs because of cancelled contracts will continue to have work.

The BMZ is engaged in efforts to promote a sustainable textiles sector in many of its partner countries. With the German Textiles Partnership and the publicly endorsed textile label "Grüner Knopf" (green button), the Ministry is working to achieve an enabling environment for more sustainability in the textiles sector in Germany as well.

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