The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) operating in the cocoa sector in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire has held its stakeholder meeting in Accra.
The event which was graced by the Executive Director of ICI, Mr. Nick Weatherill and other members of the ICI Board, was on the theme: “Reinforcing Public-Private collaboration to tackle Child Labour in cocoa growing areas”.
Addressing the gathering at the meeting, Mr. Nick Weatherill revealed his outfit’s work has fostered and strengthened vigilance for child labour as well as investing in efforts to tackle the root cause of child labour, whether through improved access to education, women’s economic empowerment or technical and vocational training for the youth.
He hinted that results from a research work ICI conducted through the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) indicates encouraging successes. The research showed ICI-assisted communities, compared to control communities, are 40% more able to mobilise community resources and seek local government support to protect children and they have up to 30% less child labour.
Mr. Weatherill explained that the only way to consolidate the gains made by ICI in these communities are through: national leadership, ownership and coordination by government, with all collaborating parties subscribing to disciplines of information-sharing, joint identification of priorities, planning together, and the adoption of common tools/metrics for tracking progress.
Another area he said will help in sustaining the gains made is a clear definition of roles and responsibilities between key actors like government, civil societies, and the private sector on a transparent basis.
This, the Executive Director of ICI noted, will translate into mutual accountability and compel each actor to strive for the goals set for all.
Mr. Weatherill announced that ICI’s new post 2020 strategy is based on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 8.7 and the fulfillment of children’s rights for all vulnerable children currently at risk of child labour.
Another area he mentioned ICI is pushing for is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), between governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, UNICEF, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Cocoa industry and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). This new partnership, I hope, will help us all reach a new level in collective coverage and impact that is greater than the sum of our individual parts. He reiterated.
Group photograph of participants
On his part, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Ignatious Baffour Awaah, has called on partners and stakeholders to admit that child labour issue in the country is real. According to him, early acceptance is the surest way to eliminate the canker.
Mr. Baffour Awaah maintained that children involved in child labour loss every opportunity to be in school. This he appealed to the gathering to help address.
The Minister explained that because most children involved in child labour do so to earn a livelihood, it affects the psyche of the children to the extent that even when they are given the opportunity to be back in school, they still opt for things that will fetch them money immediately.
These are some of the dangers children engaged in child labour have to endure most of their lives.
This years’ edition of ICI’s Stakeholder Meeting brought together more than 80 participants from the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, workers’ and farmers’ organizations, the chocolate and cocoa industry, the UN, the EU, child rights and other civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as diplomats and decision makers.
Participants at the meeting discussed two major themes: child protection and quality education. They shared their personal and organisational knowledge and also explored opportunities as well as challenges they faced, while working together to promote these areas within a sustainable cocoa supply-chain.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: email@example.com