Support for victims of textile factory collapse – improving industry standards

24.04.2015 – The collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory two years ago turned the spotlight on social and economic conditions in Bangladesh's garment industry.

Bangladesh is the second largest clothing exporter in the world, exporting textiles worth over EUR 14 billion annually. Around 5,500 textile factories employ more than four million people, most of them women, who in turn help secure the livelihoods of some 60 million people. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Government of Bangladesh have agreed to improve the environmental and social standards in these factories. BMZ has commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to put this into practice. The European Union is providing funding for the project.

Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory on 24 April 2013, causing the deaths of more than 1,100 people and injuring around 2,500 more, some of them severely, BMZ made additional funding of EUR 2.5 million available for the victims. GIZ is using these funds to support the survivors with medical care, rehabilitation and their re-entry into the workplace, in cooperation with local rehabilitation centres and specialised non-governmental organisations.

In order to meet the need for artificial limbs, the training facility for orthopaedic technicians was supported – a vocation for which training was previously only available abroad. The ten participants in the first training course have now completed their studies, and the second course is under way.

‘We have offered training to 515 victims of the disaster, enabling them, for instance, to gain the skills to set up a small business,’ says GIZ expert Jochen Weikert. ‘The participants learned how to develop a simple business plan and were given start-up funding to set themselves up in self-employment. They also received psychosocial support to help them cope with the trauma experienced in Rana Plaza.’ The training courses are designed to give the victims and their families an opportunity to earn a living.

To raise safety, labour and environmental standards, for the provision of training and advisory services to 2000 textile companies with around 1.5 million employees have been arranged in recent years. Working directly in the companies, trainers have supported executives, managers and seamstresses in improving working conditions. The advisory services have helped more than 600 companies to improve their position in the rating system established under national labour legislation.