Tackling child labour: significant impact is possible when resources are invested – ICI

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) 2019 annual report, which was launched to mark the United Nation’s (UN) World Day Against Child Labour, has revealed that the world stands to make significant impact in the lives of children if more resources are invested.

The ICIs annual report, which is launched on every 12 June, highlights activities which have allowed the child centered organisation to directly benefit over 380,000 children since 2015 and calls for those activities to be scaled up across the sector to protect even more children.

The 2019 annual report of the foundation showed that there has been significant improvement from previous years when it comes to child protection. It also examined the results of longer running efforts to tackle the child labour menace, and came to a convincing conclusion that significant impact is possible when more resources are invested, and also underlines that sector-wide scale up is now more important than ever.

Exploring impact: CLMRS and community development

According to ICI, the 2019 report explores in detail two pillars of its work to tackle child labour in the cocoa sector: first was the promotion of responsible supply chain management through the use of the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) and the tackling of root causes through the Community Development Programme.

The report says the CLMRS, implemented with ICI’s partners, has positively impacted over 215,000 children in cocoa-growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana since its introduction in 2015.

The systems, the report hinted, is embedded in  the supply chains of cocoa companies and, in collaboration with local actors and cocoa cooperatives, work to monitor, identify, prevent and remediate child labour cases; particularly helping companies conduct effective human rights due diligence in relation to child labour.

It disclosed that over 160,000 farmers were targeted by the CLMRS during the year under review. In addition to this 41,305 child labour awareness raising sessions were carried out within cocoa farming households and communities. Again 4,110 community members took part in income-generating activities, whiles 213 Community Service Groups were trained and equipped to provide farmers with affordable labour to support reduction in child labour.

This system, according to the foundation, has proven effective at identifying and remediating child labour, with the potential to reduce child labour by up to 50% among supported children in the ensuing year.

The second pillar in the report focused on was the Community development, and that system has also proven to be highly effective. In 2019, a preliminary analysis of ICI’s Community Development Programme carried out between 2015 and 2018, shows a reduction of hazardous child labour in between 20-30% of communities in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Innovating to go even further

“Learning and innovation are also now at the heart of the foundation’s strategy and, in 2019, ICI’s learning agenda advanced both knowledge and capacity in the cocoa sector. The publication of research into the link between poor quality education and child labour has shed light on the importance of going beyond the simple issue of access to schooling.

Again, research into child labour risks at the community level led to the development of a practical tool, the Child Labour Risk Calculator, to support actors in the cocoa sector simplify the process of targeting development assistance to those communities most in need.” the report said.

The child centered organisation has however, announced that further innovation projects are currently ongoing to identify child labour risk at the household level which will then be integrated into existing monitoring systems to drive efficiency. ICI is also working to better respond to the risk of forced labour through a pilot project launched last year in Ghana.  This project aims to help companies and other actors understand, prevent and mitigate forced labour where risks are most pronounced.

The ICI’s Executive Director, Nick Weatherill, speaking at the launch of the 2019 Report said “Now more than ever, we need to advance our thinking, drive innovation, adapt our tools and build capacities. When the resilience and livelihoods of cocoa communities are increasingly threatened, and when these pressures are expected in turn to increase the risks to children, we need to capitalise on the positive results we’ve achieved and double down on our efforts to take them to scale.”

“The impacts we’ve shown from our CLMRS and community development work are highly encouraging, and so too is the growing commitment from all actors in the sector. It’s now imperative that we all unite behind a common purpose of reaching every child at-risk, and building systems in the supply-chain, through national services and in communities that protect them” Continued Nick.

With the end of ICI’s 2015-2020 strategy in sight, Nick announced that a new strategy is being developed that will place even greater emphasis on this imperative of scaling up impact..


Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

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