The International Cocoa Initiative(ICI) has announced that it is seeking to completely eliminate child and forced labour in the cocoa supply chain in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
This follows research findings by the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago(NORC) indicting the two West African Countries.
The US Department of Labor (USDOL)-funded research pointed to a 39 and 55 percent prevalence rate of child labour in the production value chain among the Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively between 2013/2014 and 2018/2019.
The practice is reportedly commonplace in the two leading producers of cocoa in the world.
According to the ICI, it has leveraged monitoring systems to raise awareness of the pandemic and used them to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on child labour and child protection.
The Institute maintains that in spite of 2020’s disruptions, its strategy resulted in gains exceeding their goal of directly and positively impacting the lives of 375,000 children, with over 422,000 children reached by the child protection work they undertook with partners in the cocoa sector.
A new ICI Strategy to drive scale-up
Despite the gains reported by the Institute, it argued “as important as our impact has been, it is clearly not sufficient, on its own, to bring about the goal of eliminating child labour as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. That’s why we were so excited to launch our 2021-2026 strategy”.
The ICI’s 2021-2026 strategy aims to support a more enabling environment and drive the scale-up of child protection systems that prevent and address child labour and forced labour so that they cover 100% of the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025.
“ICI will continue to work as an operationally grounded catalyst to guide, inspire and influence the entire cocoa sector to greater action, with our innovation and learning processes, our partnerships to build capacity and our efforts to strengthen coordination all playing an ever more vital role in the journey ahead”, Nick Weatherill, executive director of ICI noted in a blog post for the World Cocoa Foundation
With their bold 2025 target, the ICI submitted a pledge on behalf of its members to scale up child protection systems to reach 540,000 cocoa-growing households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by the end of 2021.
This according to the organisation is “part of its commitment to the Alliance 8.7 and the International Labor Organization’s calls to action during the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor”.
The move would see the coverage of systems that prevent and address child labour increase to 30% of the cocoa supply chain in both countries as an important step towards the 100% coverage they are aiming to catalyze by 2025.