Bad cocoa harvests, higher costs of living make farmers vulnerable in fight against child labour – ICI report

June 29, 2024
Bad cocoa harvests, higher costs of living make farmers vulnerable in fight against child labour - ICI report

Bad cocoa harvests in and higher costs of living and production are exacerbating farmer vulnerabilities in the fight against child labour in the sector, a 2023 Report by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has found.

The report said poverty and lack of access to basic social services were among the root causes of child labour.

“Negative shocks to farmer income, such as those caused by crop failure, a fall in price, or severe weather can put a strain on families, who with limited resources or alternative sources of labour, may call on their children to fill the gap.

“A lack of social safety nets and access to social services makes cocoa farming families even more vulnerable,” it said.

The ICI said the development in the cocoa sector had made it “more critical” to provide support to cocoa farming families.

The ICI's 2023 Annual Report highlights the Organisation's work to tackle child labour and forced labour in the cocoa sector.

The ICI's activities throughout the year supported three strategic objectives – responsible cocoa supply chains, a supportive enabling environment and coordinated approaches.

The ICI said by the end of 2023, it covered over 320,000 households through Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) – systems designed to identify, address and prevent child labour.

The Report said 26 per cent of children in the system were found to be engaging in child labour, out of which 77 per cent of them received support.

The ICI said when well implemented, those systems could be highly effective with 41 per cent of supported children stopping hazardous work.

The Report said additional initiatives such as income-generating activities, community service groups, Village Savings and Loans Associations, or cash transfers, could help farmers to establish alternative sources of income to enhance their resilience.

Mr Matthias Lange, Executive Director, ICI, said challenges in the sector highlighted the need to re-double efforts to support cocoa farming families.

“It is great to see significant scale up by our members across industry and civil society in West Africa. This is a significant achievement, and one on which we are happy to build, as we continue to collectively strengthen the effectiveness and improve the impact of these systems and advance the way child labour and forced labour are tackled in the cocoa sector,” he said.

“While no single system (nor one actor alone) can end child labour, CLMRS have demonstrated their effectiveness. Along with complementary approaches, and an enabling environment, they play an important role in tackling the issue,” Mr Lange added.

The ICI said responsible supply chains were only a part of the solution to combatting child labour in the cocoa sector.

The Organisation said the creation of an enabling environment of policies, standards, and regulation that helped tackle child labour and forced labour were key to combatting the phenomenon.

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