As a direct result of cocoa farmer poverty, it is estimated that there are more than 2 million children working on cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Despite investments in education and awareness raising in the past years, and despite higher school attendance, the cocoa industry and cocoa origin countries have not succeeded in structurally eradicating child labor. Tackling poverty is a long term solution to child labor, but in the short term we need to put in place solid monitoring and remediation systems, in order to identify and forever eliminate child labor. In addition we need to work with governments, community leaders and the development community in origin countries to enforce existing laws and regulations against child labor, to provide an adequate school infrastructure, ensuring school attendance and availability of financial support in cocoa farmer families to send children to school. We need to support awareness raising and a change in the perception in the communities themselves.
Since its inception in 2002, we have been an active member on the Board of the International Cocoa Initiative – the leading organization promoting child protection in cocoa growing communities.
ICI has worked with more than 1,000 communities, supporting more than 3,000 community development actions that have benefited more than 1 million people, many of them children. Thanks to ICI’s help, more than 50,000 children now have better access to quality education.
Child labor monitoring system
Together with the International Cocoa Initiative, we piloted a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) with more than 5000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire in 2016. Facilitators on the ground work with communities to track and remediate child labor, as well as pinpoint the factors that contribute to it.
For many years Barry Callebaut has been promoting school enrollment and attendance, helping families to secure birth certificates for their schoolage children and providing school kits at the start of the academic year to children of cocoa farmers. We contribute to educational infrastructure in communities where facilities are inadequate. This includes building and furnishing classrooms and school canteens.
Recognizing that a woman’s income and education level has a direct impact on the health and education of her children, we work within farming communities to encourage and enable women’s active participation in farmer training activities, as well as group administration and management, helping to increase business skills and create opportunities for women to earn an income.
Child labor prevention and awareness is included each year in the curriculum of the thousands of farmers we train on cocoa sustainability. We will continue this practice, but increase our efforts based on the results from our current pilot program on child labor monitoring and remediation. In addition, we will conduct other pilots with expert partners, including governmental and community involvement, to develop a tailored approach to address the root causes of child labor in the chocolate supply chain.