Colombia Avanza will build the capacity of civil society to more effectively combat child labor and other labor abuses in Colombia’s coffee sector. By raising awareness and connecting survivors of labor exploitation to services in two of the largest coffee-producing areas of Colombia, the project helps promote supply chains free of exploitative labor and a fair playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world.
The United States is the largest market in the world for Colombian coffee. But before that coffee reaches our cups, the beans must be selected, processed and dried. Many workers are children – toiling in the fields instead of learning in school.
There are more than 390,000 children engaged in child labor in Colombia, and more work in agriculture than in any other sector. Colombian coffee production relies largely on family–based labor, and in many communities very little is known about the negative consequences of child labor or unsafe working conditions. Civil society organizations have powerful potential but limited involvement in raising awareness and advocating for stronger enforcement of existing policies around labor exploitation in this sector.
Colombia Avanza will build the capacity of civil society organizations in the departments of Huila and Tolima to detect and encourage action to eliminate child labor and exploitative working conditions in coffee supply chains. These organizations will develop the skills they need to identify and document the nature and scope of child labor and forced labor, which will be fed into awareness-raising and other initiatives to address child labor and violations of acceptable conditions of work. This work will also strengthen mechanisms that enable survivors of labor exploitation to file grievances and seek remedy whenever violations occur.