CACAO: Cooperatives Addressing Child Labor Accountability Outcomes

Project Duration
December 2020
June 2025
Funding and Year

The CACAO project seeks to strengthen capacity, connections, and accountability across child labor enforcement and monitoring within cocoa cooperatives; build the capacity of cocoa cooperatives to provide support to vulnerable households and access to social protection; and pilot a farm to cooperative cocoa traceability system.

The Problem

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. During the COVID-19 pandemic, children were at increased risk of becoming involved in child labor in the cocoa sector due to resulting economic and labor market shocks. Additionally, some vulnerable families fell deeper into poverty and relying on child labor to meet basic needs.  

Why focus on increasing capacity of cocoa cooperatives? 
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.

Our Strategy

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 also strengthens the capacity of government agencies to enforce child labor laws within cocoa cooperatives and the capacity of cocoa cooperatives to monitor child labor on their members’ farms. CACAO is also piloting a farm-to-cooperative traceability system with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire as part of cooperative accountability in child labor monitoring. In addition, it is building the capacity of cocoa cooperatives to support vulnerable members’ households directly and by linking their members with other service providers.

This work involves identifying the 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.


  • Working in 50 cooperatives in the Haut-Sassandra Region, trained social workers have conducted 240 awareness sessions for 7,043 participants to promote the use of social centers that assist with child protection and child labor cases, reduce child labor, and promote the idea of establishing child labor prevention and control systems at the community level.
  • The CACAO project has facilitated the establishment of 80 village savings and loan associations (VSLA) and the training of 34 VSLA facilitators. As of September 2023, 1,968 members have saved USD 54,000, allowing 522 community members to benefit from USD 46,000 worth of loans. 694 VSLA members (or 35%) have created income-generating activities.
  • Some 1,893 individuals have been provided with training to monitor and enforce child labor laws, with 98 percent of cocoa cooperatives having received training. Eighty-nine percent of enforcement agencies in the target areas are now monitoring and tracking child labor law violations within the cooperatives, and 13 percent of cocoa cooperatives are reporting child labor cases to the child protection committees and social workers.  
Save the Children
Implementing Partners:
Farmers in Action (2A)
Contact Information: / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Capacity Building
Côte d’Ivoire
FY20 Projects
Social Services
Supply Chains