ICI studies evaluate child labour progress in West African cocoa supply chains

Education for children in West Africa is key to tackling child labour (photo, Fairtrade)

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has furthered its work on analysing progress on industry’s Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), in core Ghanaian and Ivory Coast supply chains, writes Neill Barston.

According to the Swiss-based non-profit organisation, its latest studies aim to guide improvements and effectiveness in addressing child labour, which remains among core ongoing issues facing the chocolate and wider confectionery sectors.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported, the underlying situation in Ghana and Ivory Coast has been revealed by research from NORC at the University of Chicago, which highlighted the fact 1.5 million children were still experiencing child labour.

Its core underlying cause in a region dominated by smallholder farming, is that of farmer poverty, with many agricultural workers believed to be earning under $1 a day,  well below UN defined poverty levels for sustainable living. Reflecting this, Mondelez International released a report last October confirming a $10 billion farmer earning gap existed in the region – demonstrating the immense scale of the major problem at hand.

ICI explained that its report analyses data from over 200,000 children covered by 12 CLMRS in the West African cocoa sector. It has examined differences in design system design, set-up, operation and management, posing core questions of how effective these schemes operated by major confectionery and cocoa groups are, and how have they enabled children to be kept clear of labour and continue access to education.

Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are a means of targeting prevention, mitigation and
remediation assistance to children involved in or at-risk of child labour, as well as to their families and
communities.

They raise awareness about child labour and the resulting harm and identify cases through active, regular and repeated monitoring. When a case of child labour is identified, targeted support can be provided in response to the specific needs of the child, family and community.

Children continue to be monitored on a regular basis until they have stopped engaging in child labour and have satisfactory alternatives.

CLMRS are currently estimated to cover 450,000 cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana
and the use of these systems to tackle child labour in cocoa-growing communities is increasing. Earlier
this year, ICI and its members pledged to scale up such systems to cover 540,000 cocoa-farming
households by the end of 2021 as part of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour,
corresponding to 30% of the supply-chain in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

This pledge is one step towards a much larger ICI ambition to help ensure that 100% of the cocoa supply chain in those countries is covered by 2025.

It is therefore imperative to ensure these systems are as efficient and effective as possible, so they can be more easily scaled up.

Commenting on the studies, Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director noted that the industry needed to be intensified to have a broader impact.

He said:  “At ICI, scaling up Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems is a core part of our long-term strategy to tackle child labour and protect children. This report is important as it provides valuable insights on good practices that can help improve the performance and efficiency of these systems, allowing them to be more rapidly scaled up to support more children,”

“This study would not have been possible without the contributions of all those practitioners who shared their insights and experiences to advance our collective learning on what works best in identifying, preventing and addressing child labour.”

The findings in this report (Effectiveness Review of Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems
in the West African Cocoa Sector) are relevant to anyone implementing, setting up or expanding a
CLMRS in the cocoa sector, or beyond, and the recommendations provide concrete ways to improve
the effectiveness and efficiency of systems to prevent and address child labour.

What have we learned about improving the design and set up of systems to identify child labour?
Identifying cases of child labour is not always easy. Child labour is a sensitive topic, children may not
be present when a monitor visits, families may not always provide complete information, and the
training, experience and motivation of monitors can vary considerably.

However, it is important to identify as many of the cases as possible, so that support can be provided to all who need it. Findings show that:

• Child labour in cocoa occurs throughout the year, but according to CLMRS data, children are at
greater risk at specific times of the year, following the agricultural calendar. Scheduling and
adapting awareness-raising campaigns and monitoring visits to match the seasonal patterns of
certain hazardous tasks, could improve the relevance of messaging and increase the likelihood
of identifying children at-risk.

• Using a combination of household monitoring visits and farm visits increases the likelihood
that children in child labour are identified and receive support.
• When recruiting locally based monitors, efforts should be made to recruit and retain more
female monitors and those with higher levels of education, as this appears to help with the
identification of children in child labour. Experienced monitors should be incentivised to stay in
the job for longer.

How effective are systems at keeping children out of child labour?
Once a child is identified, providing support does not automatically mean that a child stops working.
Different children require different types of support depending on the causes, and our results show
that some children are more difficult to keep out of child labour than others. Many children go in and
out of child labour over time, underlining the importance of continuing to monitor them and respond
to their changing needs.

Child labour monitoring and remediation systems provide a range of support to children, families and
communities. ICI analysed data from follow-up visits to children who were identified in child labour
and received support in Côte d’Ivoire to understand how effective these systems are at keeping
children out of child labour and improving access to school:

• Overall, results show that remediation activities provided by systems are effective at
protecting children from hazardous work. Over half of children (54%) reported not doing
hazardous tasks at one of their follow-up visits.

• Multiple follow-up visits should be conducted to ensure that a child has stopped hazardous
work after having received support, since many children subsequently resume some form of
child labour. Around 29% of children reported not doing hazardous work for two consecutive
follow-up visits.

ICI said it recommends following up on children’s progress until they have reported
not engaging in hazardous child labour for at least two consecutive follow-up visits, with a
minimum three-month interval between the visits. Once a child is no longer engaging in
hazardous tasks their situation should continue to be monitored as part of the CLMRS to make
sure it remains stable.

• Boys, older children, those out-of-school, and those not living with a biological parent are at a
greater risk of participating in child labour and are harder to keep out of child labour.

The organisation recommended improving access to and quality of education, ensuring provision of school kits and evaluating educational infrastructure, given that many cocoa communities are based within especially rural areas of the region.

 

 

 

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