Child labor in cocoa has no one cause. There are often complex and deep-rooted cultural, social, and economic challenges at play.
Farmers cannot always afford to pay for farm labor, so their children help on the farm at weekends or after school. Some parents have no school nearby to send their children to or they cannot provide the documents needed to enroll them, such as birth certificates. Sometimes labor laws are misunderstood or poorly enforced. The complexity of the problem means one intervention will never be enough – it requires a range of long-term actions at the individual, community, and national levels.
Tackling child labor therefore requires collaboration across stakeholder groups – including customers, partners and NGOs. That is why in 2020 we invited Save The Children and its Centre for Child Rights and Business to assess how effectively we combat child labor across four of our key cocoa-growing countries (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria) and to identify areas where we could be doing more.
Save The Children found our programs have real reach and impact. Such as in Cameroon where we trained 6,000 smallholder farmers in child labor sensitization, or in Ghana where we set up protection committees covering 210 communities. It found that our strength lies in our holistic approach, which considers a range of root causes, the link we have made between traceability and child labor monitoring, and the roll-out of our digital Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation (CLMRS) app.
As a result of the study, we intend to build on our existing child labor training programs and measure their impact through before and after assessments. We plan to more strongly link community protection programs with our supply chain operations and create more robust outcome indicators to ensure we are making a real difference.
Ines Kaempfer, CEO of the Centre for Child Rights and Business, Save the Children said:
“We really welcome ofi’s readiness to allow an independent third party to review their existing child labor prevention and remediation programs in order to define their strategy going forward. The transparency demonstrated by ofi in this process is remarkable and proves to what level ofi is committed to finding the best possible strategies to protect children in their supply chains. We are looking forward to continuously supporting ofi in this endeavor."
Find out more about how we’re making the future of cocoa more sustainable.