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; 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.
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.
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.
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 also strengthen 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 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 members’ 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.
The following results reflect early activities during the project’s start-up phase, which are important for laying the foundation for future success. Please check back later for more results as the project advances further in its implementation.
- In 2021, during the initial stage of implementation, the CACAO project conducted a series of consultations with civil society partners, government partners, and Save the Children staff to better understand the operating environment and increase the project’s chances of success.
- The project also consulted with other USDOL-funded projects, including former staff of the Combating Forced Labor and Labor Trafficking of Adults and Children in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire (FLIP) project. These consultations focused on current government policies and initiatives, donor expectations, lessons learned from other projects, and ways to ensure effective project implementation.
- During the consultations, the Office of the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire and the Ivoirian Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare committed to collaborate with the project and to adapt promising practices of the project on a national level to combat child labor.