Cocoa Life’s approach to help address the risk of child labor in the global cocoa supply chain focuses on prevention, monitoring and remediation, with a heavy emphasis on addressing the systemic root causes of child labor. You can download our child labor strategy here.
Cocoa Life’s holistic approach addresses the root causes of child labor around poverty and lack of rural development. Through our Community Action Plans, we develop interventions that contribute to preventing child labor:
- Improve income from cocoa farming as well as additional sources
- Empower communities to advocate for their own development
- Empower women at household and community level
- Improve access to quality education
Prosperous cocoa farms mean farmers are less likely to rely on their children to support in their work. Empowered women and communities, who understand their development needs, will push for their children to remain in school. And children, who have access to quality education, will have a chance at the bright future they deserve.
Strengthening child protection systems
In addition to preventative interventions, we are rolling out targeted interventions to build and strengthen local child protection systems, in partnership with local ities. While the interventions may differ across origins, our approach to strengthening child protection systems is aligned with Cocoa Life’s mission to lead the transformation of the cocoa sector and follows the below principles:
Community-based: we believe that thriving cocoa growing communities – where communities are empowered to be accountable for the well-being of their children – are the foundation of a sustainable cocoa supply chain.
System-strengthening and sustainable: where the communities and families have access to basic services and infrastructure, and children have access to quality education, community ities and government institutions are more capable in fulfilling their duty to protect children’s rights and keeping children safe from harm.
Rights-based and child-centric: to ensure the best interests of the child are considered, as enshrined under the UN Child Rights Convention, which involves approaching child protection in its broader sense, beyond the narrow issue of child labor in cocoa, to include all child rights issues within the community.
Monitoring and remediation
We are working with local ities and partners to roll-out community-based Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS). When we say ‘community-based’, we mean that like Cocoa Life, the CLMRS is centered on communities and their empowerment. To ensure the CLMRS are sustainable and able to run independently of Cocoa Life in the long-term, we focus on building the capacity of the communities themselves, as well as that of public ities to support them and fulfil their duty to protect human rights. That means, as part of our CLMRS, we:
- Set up and train Community Child Protection Committees to become the focal point within the community and primary liaison to school and district ities
- Identify vulnerable children, particularly those who are out of school, who are either at risk or in a situation of child labor, through household and children interviews
- Engage vulnerable children’s parents and support children through collective and/or individual remediation
- Share all data with the ities and refer identified cases for remediation whenever needed
- Use government-developed tools to support national policies and avoid the development of parallel systems
- Take a broader lens to consider child rights beyond child labor and cover all children in the community, whether their parents grow cocoa or not
- Based on learning from CLMRS and wider Cocoa Life program, advocate with government for measures to obtain universal access to quality education for children in cocoa growing communities and beyond
In order to drive long-lasting positive change for children in cocoa-growing regions, all actors along the chocolate supply chain need to play their part and join forces in addressing the systemic issues underlying child labor. This is why, as founding members, we support the work of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), aiming to address the root causes of child labor and drive efforts to strengthen public-private partnership with governments, development partners and civil society organizations.
In the European Union, the world’s largest consuming market for West African cocoa, we have joined forces with peer and supplier companies as well as NGOs to amplify our voice. Together, we are calling on the EU to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of
companies in global cocoa supply chains, and implement a smart policy mix to support the necessary environments in producing countries for the respect of human rights, including those of children. (Read our joint position here.)
"The only way to effectively tackle child labor is to address its multiple root causes, which requires gathering many skill sets. That’s why the Cocoa Life commitment to partnerships is particularly important. As the program scales up, Cocoa Life will have a transformative effect on the communities where it’s implemented and will have an important impact on a lot of the child labor risk."
Nick Weatherill, Executive Director, International Cocoa Initiative