CACAO: Cooperatives Addressing Child Labor Accountability Outcomes
The CACAO project seeks to strengthen capacity, connections, and accountability across child labor enforcement and monitoring within cocoa cooperatives and to build capacity of cocoa cooperatives to support vulnerable member households directly and by linking their members with other service providers.
Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans, accounting for more than 40% of global production. Two thirds of Ivoirians work in agriculture, and an estimated 85% of farmers’ income depends on cocoa. Children of cocoa farmers are particularly vulnerable to hazardous child labor. Cocoa production in West Africa is labor intensive, and working on cocoa farms can be hazardous, particularly for children, whose physical, mental, and psychological capacities are still developing. Children working in cocoa may carry heavy loads, use dangerous tools, and be involved in spraying cocoa trees with pesticides or burning fields to clear them. In the current period of the COVID-19 pandemic, children may be at increased risk of becoming involved in child labor in the cocoa sector due to resulting economic and labor market shocks. Additionally, vulnerable families may fall deeper into poverty and rely on child labor to meet basic needs.
In Côte d’Ivoire, smallholder farmers are the backbone of cocoa production. Smallholder farmers face multiple difficulties, including weak negotiating power at the farmer level, fluctuating global cocoa prices, as well as low crop yields. Cooperatives provide a crucial link in the cocoa value chain by bridging the gap between farmers and markets and ensuring support services and goods are available to farmers in rural areas. However, only 30% to 40% of farmers participate in cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire, and not all cooperatives operate effectively.
The CACAO project aims to increase the number of cocoa cooperatives demonstrating a reduction of child labor in the cocoa supply chain by implementing activities to:
- Improve accountability of cocoa cooperatives to monitor child labor in the cocoa supply chain and facilitate enforcement of child labor laws by the government; and
- Strengthen organizational capacity to accelerate progress in increasing support to vulnerable households within cocoa cooperatives and providing access to social protection and child labor remediation programs.
The project will strengthen the capacity of government agencies to enforce child labor laws within cocoa cooperatives, as well as the capacity and accountability among cocoa cooperatives to monitor child labor. CACAO also will work with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to pilot a farm-to-cooperative traceability system as part of cooperative accountability in child labor monitoring. In addition, it will build the capacity of cocoa cooperatives to support vulnerable member households directly and by linking their members with other service providers.
This work involves identifying roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders; mapping, improving, and/or facilitating linkages between cooperatives, law enforcement authorities, and social protection programs and coordination systems, processes, and activities; and implementing awareness raising activities.