Living Wage Eastern Africa


Duration: July 2012 – July 2016

Funding: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands.

Project management: Paulien Osse, WageIndicator Foundation.


Enhancing food security in developing countries is one of the new overarching policy aims of Dutch development cooperation. This position links up with current United Nations policies. Their joint concern is prompted by the fear that the food crisis will be worsening over the coming decades. Already today close to 1 billion people worldwide suffer from starvation, and the trend of increasing food prices will lead to more hunger and poverty.

This combination of national and international priorities led the WageIndicator Foundation to design the Living Wage project. Since income security in households has everything to do with food security, WageIndicator definitely has a contribution to make here. It specializes in collecting and making accessible information on minimum wages, collective agreements, current wages, labour law, debates, and compliance sessions.

Living Wage addresses income and food security in 9 countries of East Africa: Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt. The great majorities of their populations work in agriculture and related sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture production, food processing and packaging, transport and storage, marketing, trade and distribution for the domestic as well as for the export markets, and commercial food services (catering, hotels).

The fact that all of its data are internally compatible and internationally comparable, puts WageIndicator in the position to work in all of these countries and sectors simultaneously towards similar goals. It shares its data with others, preferably social partners. It has achieved promising results in working jointly with employers’ and workers’ organisations in earlier projects, in both Africa and on other continents. It is therefore convinced that   working conditions can be improved through awareness raising and persuasion, information, through dialogue, compliance, and to increase the number enforceable collective agreements.

The WageIndicator approach of combining online and offline operations is also applied in Living Wage. The Living Wage program unfolds along these lines:

  • Provide individual workers and social partners with labour market information regarding their rights and obligations to enable well-informed decision making. Information concerning labour law consists of user-friendly texts about main topics in labour law written in Frequently Asked Questions style and posted on the national WageIndicator websites. They are also used for the so-called Decent Work Check. This tool is made available in printed form for use in the fact finding mini social dialogues, i.e. debates, organized together with social partners.
  • Contribute to a better understanding of the institutional framework, and amendments required concerning the minimum wage and Decent Work Agenda in the food supply chain. Information concerning minimum wages is collected, published and updated regularly.
  • Gathering of information on collective agreements, collected in cooperation between national social partners for posting on the national WageIndicator websites. The 50 main items in the collective agreements are coded to facilitate comparability. In this way a collective agreements database is built, searchable and printable. It is free to copy from, and for adoption of best examples and clauses from agreements of related sectors, regions, or companies.

Thus WageIndicator believes that through the Living Wage project it can contribute to a better understanding of the income dimension in the food chain and by doing so improve food security in the Eastern African region as a whole.


Global Conference - Meeting 27 - 28 August 2015 Amsterdam

Summer School - Meeting 4 - 8 July, 2016, Amsterdam

University of Amsterdam/AIAS Wages in Global Perspective Conference - Meeting Sept 1 - 2017, Amsterdam

Results 1

WageIndicator country websites - webtraffic per year 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 total 9.892 9.424 6.432 913     26661 (Egypt) 274.147 194.664 137.228 50.79 39.626   696455 134.392 36.621 24.841 2.68     198534 374.651 322.57 165.58 119.541 45.052   1027304 289.997 221.104 169.585 149.221 91.895 57307 979109 40.582 30.505 25.334 28.025     124446 175.822 102.785 71.034 46.482 19.166   415289 53.387 35.482 19.839 14.128 8.611   131447
Total             3599245

Results 2

WageIndicator Collective Agreement database, including sample Collective Agreements

Results 3 

Living wages and Wages in Context - Map and country reports.

Results 4

Reports: Wages in Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda - See Publications.

Results 5

Many national and regional debates with employers, trade unions, workers and labour inspectors. Effect: improved relationships with trade unions and employers. Better understanding about how to improve the Minimum wages in Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda.


Evalation report

Van Norel, J., Veldkamp, T, & Shayo, S. (2016). The Living Wage Eastern Africa project 2013-2016. Mid-Term Evaluation Final Report. The Coalition Factory

Highlights out of the evaluation:

Respondents of the user satisfaction survey find the fact-finding debates and compliance sessions important to very important sources of information: “I’m impressed by the quality of the updated information that is available for every country and in every language, shared in a way that everybody locally can understand it”, and “The CBA database is excellent – encourages unions and employers to strike better CBAs and still remain in business with good industrial relationships”. (pp.32-33)

The support received from WageIndicator some describe as ‘significant’, ‘excellent’, ‘timely’, ‘transparent’, ‘effective’, transparent leadership’, ‘they are always able to hear and help you timely and effective’, ‘they supported us through the Living Wages Project in the capacity building of our members’. Several respondents mention that personal engagement of the WageIndicator director has meant a lot and broke the ice in many cases.

Others underline that ‘the continued efforts of WageIndicator Foundation were instrumental and indispensable in the creation of a cooperative environment with the partners’, that ‘collaboration and communication with other partners was always easy and well-managed’, or speak about ‘very cordial cooperation’. In general survey respondents don't feel that coordination and collaboration could have been done better. (p.47)

The team, which is responsible for the CBA database, collaborates on a daily basis using spreadsheets / chat boxes and drop box. The collaboration between these team members has been described as follows; ‘wonderful’, ‘the project unearthed a lot of evidence about collective bargaining agreements that was previously unknown, like solving a mystery. The teams really had to set up a lot of cooperation to acquire the agreements, get them into readable files and then code them. They did a fantastic job, allowing us to solve the mystery about what social partners had actually agreed in the course of the collective bargaining process’, ‘the best part of the collaboration from the academic point of view is how much we can depend on local knowledge. The team members are very well informed about the situation in their own countries and are able to help the academic world to understand and interpret the data’ (p.48)