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Hands of gold – shea butter farmers

Upper East Ghana, Africa

Shea butter is in demand. Yet the women who produce it make very little money. What’s more, poor working conditions mean many of them are not fit to work by their 40s. So, what can we do? We’ve documented the current situation to galvanise support from those who can help. We will contribute our occupational safety and health (OSH) expertise while working alongside our partners to make these women’s lives safer and healthier.

These are based on the risk assessment recommendations for a safer and healthier working life for the shea butter workers and include both short- and long-term targets. You can download the risk assessment at the bottom of this page.

Provide aluminium poles, rakes and wheelbarrows to assist the collection of nuts and reduce the risk of falls from height and musculoskeletal disorders.  

Provide solar dryers and solar cookers to eliminate the need to collect firewood.  

Provide a screw press and mechanical filtering to eliminate exposure to hot fluids and dermatological hazards. 

Educate the workers on the hazards, how they cause harm and how these can be avoided. Provide legal advice, investment and sales training to support the development of co-operatives of a sufficient size to sell to the main exporters directly, for the best price. 

Provide appropriate storage facilities.

"The crushing part is very difficult for us because our hands and shoulders really hurt. Sometimes you accidentally hit your finger and you can't continue working."

Job role

Who is involved

  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
  • International Social Security Association (ISSA)
  • Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC)
  • Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa)
  • Government of Ghana
  • Embassy of Germany
  • Rotary Club
  • Shea butter farmers and textile weavers
  • UK High Commission Ghana
  • IOSH consultants
  • Local IOSH members
  1. Local OSH experts and IOSH members have conducted an impartial risk assessment to assess the current conditions.

    • Formed a co-operative, Lana Empire Africa, bringing the women into the formal economy.
    • Lana Empire Africa gained Food and Drug Administration approval for their products, opening new markets with better prices. Shipments are already on the way across Africa and to Europe.
  2. Investors can now see how Lana Empire Africa can supply factory settings and machinery, enabling the co-operative to submit funding applications.

We've included information about what's next for the project below. Keep your eye out for updates, which we'll publish as and when we have them.

  1. Create a website for Lana Empire Africa.

  2. Receive outcome of submissions from investors.

Get involved

We welcome your support in helping people stay safe at work. It can change the lives of the most vulnerable workers. Find out more about these projects and the work we are doing.