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How Covid-19 pandemic has impacted women working in flower farms

Author: Caroline Wahome, Hivos, Published on: 28 May 2020

"A sector worth billions whose employees now lack food and jobs"

High food prices and loss of income have emerged as the major concerns for women working on flower farms in Kenya. A rapid assessment of the effects of COVID-19 by Hivos East Africa [email protected] indicates that food security is a major concern mainly due to job losses and increasing food prices...In one of the farms sampled there was a significant reduction of workers from 500 to 180, with close to 100 permanent workers being among those sent on unpaid leave. Additionally, on only four out of 12 farms sampled have employers retained their entire workforce as the effects of COVID-19 rage on. For some of these farms, the decision to retain workers was the result of dialogue between company management and the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU). They agreed on a rotational schedule of two weeks of paid work and two weeks of unpaid leave...

Doing more work for less pay (reported in eight of the 12 farms sampled) has led to an increase in the number of employees off sick, with women reporting higher fatigue and stress levels as they live in constant fear of termination. “I feel tormented both mentally and physically. It is like life has turned upside down. I am doing more than double the work I used to do. And yet when I go back home, my children need my full attention,” said one of the interviewees.

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