Update from the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group

Submitted by aatkins on March 14, 2013

On March 12, 2013 nearly 100 interested stakeholders met to discuss the progress made in the last year by the programs of the Joint Declaration of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, towards reducing child labor in the cocoa sectors of Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) task force came together in September 2010 to support the implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol with the goal of reducing the worst forms of child labor across the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by 70 percent by 2020.  


The CLCCG includes representatives from the US government (Senator Harkin, Congressman Engel, Department of Labor), The Ivorian government, the Ghanaian government, and the chocolate industry.  The US DOL has pledged to support this initiative with $10 million and the industry has pledged $7 million, with an additional $3 million in potential increases to existing projects meeting the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Tuesday’s meeting presented an opportunity for all participants to report out on their progress.

Here’s what we learned:

The Ivorian Government announced they had built 3,500 schools in 2012 with a plan to build 8,000 more in 2013.  The effort to reduce child labor must be coupled with building schools that are accessible and affordable to the children in cocoa growing regions. The Ivorian Government estimates that a total of 36,000 schools are needed to accommodate all children in he country, and that half of this need is in the cocoa growing regions.  There is still work to be done, but in one year they have built nearly 10% of the needed schools and trained 5000 teachers.  By the end of next year, if they stay on schedule, the Ivory close could have close to 32% of the needed schools.

Mars announced it would spend $2.713 million in the next two years and $19 million total to address child labor in the 55 communities it works in.

Kraft/Mondelez pledged $2.3 million to its programs in Ghana to improve school infrastructure, install solar energy, and provide bicycles so children can get to school more easily.

Nestle has committed $1.5 million over 4 years, and is aiming to build or refurbish 30 schools.  So far they have 10 school projects in process.

Ferrero committed $1.14 million over the next three years to work with SourceTrust to focus on monitoring child labor in Ghana.  In year one they have worked in 48 communities, and they aim to touch 176 communities by 2015.

Barry Callebaut announced it had committed $300,000 and had built two schools. (This is in addition to seven they have already built).

Hershey spoke about CocoaLink, its text messaging program for farmers in Ghana, to which it has pledged $600,000.  This program launched in March of 2011 and to date has 3,720 subscribers registered in Ghana, where there are an estimated 700,000+ cocoa farmers.  CocoaLink has reached less than 1% of cocoa farmers in Ghana, no farmers in Cote D’Ivoire to date, and lacks metrics on how effective this program has been in the last two years to prevent child labor.

So, overall, we learned that some progress is being made, but that some may be working harder and more urgently to address child labor on the ground.

Collectively, the companies listed have revenues in the hundreds of billions, and far more than the country of Cote D’Ivoire, a country with an estimated GDP of $24 billion. The fact that these companies together have only built a few dozen schools so far, hardly a nick in the estimated need of 36,000, is worrisome.

We hope that all players will continue to work in partnership with one another to achieve the best results for children in cocoa growing regions, and we look forward to Tulane University’s 2014 report on the progress that has been made by the members of the CLCCG.

More from the Blog