Durah [name changed to protect her identity], 39, supervises work on a tea estate in Kenya. Image: Rehema Baya / ActionAid
Kambura [name changed to protect her identity], 36, picking tea in Kenya. Image: Rehema Baya / ActionAid

Empowering Tea Communities in Kenya

Securing rights for people living and working in the smallholder tea sector – especially women and children.

Tackling fair pay, working conditions and violence against women.

Smallholder farmers and informal workers are vital in international tea supply chains, but are more likely to face low pay, poor conditions, and lack of public services.

In Kenya, our research of the smallholder tea sector also found high rates of violence against women and children not attending school who may become tea pickers.

To change this, ETP is partnering with ActionAid, Taylors of Harrogate, Lavazza Professional and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) in a three-year pilot.

Together we will empower three tea growing communities and work with key tea industry and government stakeholders to improve policies and working practices that will have positive impact on informal workers and smallholder farmers across the entire Kenyan smallholder tea sector.




  • Status: On-track

Project overview

The collaboration will uphold the rights and livelihoods of tea farmers and workers, and support women’s rights to live free from violence.

Project partners

ETP core funding, ActionAid, Taylors of Harrogate, Lavazza Professional, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)

Patricia, [name changed to protect her identity], 50, a small-scale farmer, plucks tea in Kenya.

Build an environment where human rights are upheld, protected, and respected.

Support women as they work to claim their right to freedom from violence.

Improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and informal workers.

Improve access to essential public services for tea workers and their families – including water, housing, healthcare and education.

Establish a sustainable model for scale-up.


Zera [name changed to protect her identity], 39, at a tea collection centre. Image: Rehema Baya / Africa Film Network / ActionAid

Reviewing laws and policies addressing gender-based violence, labour and worker’s rights and working with the sector to strengthen and uphold them.

Supporting farmers and workers to know and claim their rights to better working conditions.

Helping smallholder farmers and informal workers diversify their incomes, while working with the Kenyan Tea Development Agency and others to ensure fair pay and conditions.

Supporting women’s groups to know their rights and demand fair access to services, women’s land rights, and an end to gender-based violence.

Supporting survivors of gender-based violence and working with industry management and other stakeholders to make the sector safer for women.

Undertaking a study on the drivers of children not attending school and working with families, schools and local government to develop an action plan to ensure children of tea workers access education.

Durah [name changed to protect her identity], 39, works as a supervisor on several tea estates in Kenya and is a smallholder farmer herself. Image: Rehema Baya / ActionAid

We have established 49 Solidarity Groups trained in women’s rights, including essential public services meeting the needs of women and girls. We have also trained 1,571 Rights Champions, 80% of whom are women, to help others access their rights.

Assisting the formation of women’s networks in each community has ensured participation in local planning processes. Women have mapped public resources, identified gaps, and are supporting survivors of gender-based violence to access the services they need.


Key achievements
A tea field in Kenya



women’s networks 


Rights Champions, 80% of whom are women 


Solidarity Groups for smallholder farmers and informal workers