The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), has entered a public-private partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to target 5,000 children in child-labour or at high risk of falling into child labour on cocoa farms in West Africa.
ICI is a charitable foundation set-up to eliminate the worst forms of child labour whose members include major confectioners such as Mars, Nestle, Hershey, Ferrero and Kraft/Cadbury.
‘Addressing root causes’
The ILO Cocoa Communities Project will seek to combat child labour in 80 cocoa growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in a programme funded by the US Department of Labour.
Nick Weatherill, executive director of ICI, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “By addressing the root causes of child labour as well as the symptoms, and by involving all key actors of the sector, the holistic approach of this project will ensure its effectiveness and sustainability, and broaden its impact.
“This new project will continue boosting national efforts in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire around child labour monitoring and humane remediation, serving to identify vulnerable farmers and at-risk children, and deliver the assistance they need to pursue an alternative way of life.”
Almost 820,000 children in Côte d’Ivoire and over 997,000 kids in Ghana were found to be working on cocoa-related activities in 2007/2008, according to Tulane University.
The ILO/ICI project will try to sensitise farmers on child-labour and develop Community Action Plans designed to keep kids in school and out of harmful work.
The new project comes soon after the European Parliament gave its consent to the 2010 International Cocoa Agreement and passed a resolution on child labour in the cocoa sector in March.
The resolution calls on the industry to live up to its responsibilities in helping to tackle the worst forms of child labour on cocoa farms.
Commitments from the industry
Mars and Ferrero have both committed to sourcing 100% of cocoa for chocolate products from certified farms by 2020.
Hershey announced in January it would invest $10m towards sustainable cocoa sourcing in West Africa over the next five years, but set no targets on sourcing from certified farms.
Kraft/Cadbury and Nestle are other major confectioners that have yet to set goals to go 100% certified, although Nestle has allowed the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to investigate whether children are working on cocoa farms supplying its factories.