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ILO–IPEC and Chocolate and Cocoa Industry Partnership to Combat Child Labor in West Africa


Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are the world’s largest cocoa producers, accounting for 60 percent of global production. In both countries, unacceptable labor practices on cocoa farms mean that large numbers of children are performing hazardous farming tasks or working at the expense of attending school. Not only is this is a grave violation of children’s rights which requires action throughout the value chain, but the persistence of child labor is also a threat to the sustainable supply of cocoa, since young people increasingly leave cocoa farms to migrate to urban areas where the prospects for education and decent work may be better. At present, the average age of cocoa farmers is 58 years, and thus a major problem is to ensure continuity in the cocoa growing farms by the younger generation.

The Chocolate and Cocoa Industry Public Private-Partnership (PPP) to Combat Child Labour in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire is a partnership between the ILO and a number of companies in the chocolate and confectionery industry, including ADM, Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Ferrero, The Hershey Company, Kraft Foods, Mars Incorporated, and Nestlé. The partnership seeks to provide additional and targeted aimed at eliminating child labor and ensuring continuity in the cocoa growing farms by younger generations. Moreover, it contributes to the implementation of the 2010 Framework of Action to Support Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol on Child Labour in Cocoa and addresses the multiple causes of child labour, such as household poverty, the reliance of families on their children’s income and the lack of access to education.

The partners have three main objectives for their collaboration:

  • to strengthen the capacity of governments, social partners and cocoa farmers to combat the worst forms of child labor in cocoa producing communities
  • to support the development of community-based Child Labour Monitoring Systems (CLMS), which identify and refer child labourers and at-risk children to the appropriate educational channels and follow-up with them to ensure a good outcome
  • to enhance coordination between the myriad of initiatives aimed at tackling child labor in cocoa growing communities in the two countries. The partnership provides additional support for a larger set of projects by the ILO’s IPEC, which contributes to the elimination of child labor through improved livelihoods and an integrated area-based approach that tackles all forms of child labor in a geographical area.

The project demonstrates how multinational companies, working in partnership with ILO constituents on nationally owned CLMS, can achieve sustainable progress in eliminating child labor in their supply chains. The project will support the withdrawal or prevention of some 3,000 children from child labor in target communities. More specifically:

  • Company representatives are involved in strategic planning with ILO constituents and other stakeholders on the elimination of child labor in cocoa growing areas and contribute to the implementation of National Action Plans against child labor and national CLMS strategies.
  • The project also promotes greater coordination between the multitude of relevant initiatives in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, many of them funded by individual companies in the chocolate and cocoa industry.
  • By contributing to the creation of community-based CLMS, linked with government services and enforcement mechanisms, the project serves as a sustainable model for industry that can be scaled up, thereby making a significant contribution to the achievement of the industry’s goal of a 70 percent reduction in child labor in cocoa growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire by 2020.
  • Another important aspect of the partnership between the ILO and the industry is the cooperation with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). The eight chocolate and cocoa companies working in partnership with IPEC are also members of the ICI, along with the global food workers’ trade union and civil society. IPEC acts as advisors to the Board of the ICI and in that capacity provides on-going advisory services on child labor elimination and the ILO child labour Conventions to the companies.

Benefits of partnering

Companies receive technical assistance on the elimination of child labor from the world’s leading programme on the subject: the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). Companies strengthen relations with the governments of the countries in which they operate.

As stated above, the average age of cocoa farmers is 58 years and a major concern is ensuring continuity in the cocoa growing farms by the younger generation. Working with IPEC makes their supply chain more sustainable. The programs boost the livelihoods of farmers which results in young people wanting to continue to grow cocoa instead of going to work in the cities. This should ensure long-term supply for the industry. Moreover, improved training of the cocoa farmers results in better quality of products and greater productivity.

For more information, please contact: Kassiyet Tulegenova, International Labour Organization.