Combatting Child Labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Cobalt Industry (COTECCO)

Project Duration
October 2018
September 2022
Funding and Year

The COTECCO project works to address child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) cobalt supply chain, with a focus on artisanal and small-scale mining. It supports key stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to reduce child labor and improve working conditions in artisanal and small-scale mines, as well as in the broader cobalt supply chain.

The Problem

Cobalt is widely used in the production of goods, including batteries for smartphones, computers, and electric vehicles, for which demand is growing. The DRC is a global leader in cobalt production and accounts for over 50 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves. Children routinely work in these mines, often under hazardous conditions. While mining is on the DRC’s list of hazardous activities for which children’s work is forbidden, the majority of cobalt mining in the DRC is done informally, where monitoring and enforcement are poor.

Our Strategy

The COTECCO project works to reduce child labor in the cobalt supply chain by supporting efforts to: 

  • raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities to combat child labor; 
  • build the enforcement capacity of government and other relevant stakeholders at the national, provincial, and local levels; and
  • improve private sector monitoring and remediation of child labor violations in the cobalt supply chain. 

COTECCO also supports efforts to enhance implementation and enforcement of laws, policies, and action plans that address child labor and working conditions in artisanal and small-scale mining in the DRC’s cobalt supply chain. In addition, the project works to increase transparency and monitoring of child labor and working conditions in cobalt mining supply chains, particularly in artisanal and small-scale mines. As such, the project is assisting the Government of the DRC to develop and implement a multi-stakeholder, sector-wide child labor monitoring system.


  • The COTECCO project supported the Government of the DRC in its development of a national decree to create the Interministerial Commission in charge of Monitoring Child Labor in Artisanal Mining and a second decree for the creation of the provincial commission in Lualaba.
  • With the project’s support, the Government of DRC became a Pathfinder Country under Alliance 8.7, committing to reach Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to eliminate child labor by 2025. The project worked with the Government of the DRC to develop the country’s child labor elimination strategy.    
  • The project has established a formal partnership with between the Congolese Mining Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Enterprises of the Congo, which jointly represent both formal large-scale mining companies and artisanal miners in the cobalt supply chain. The partnership will promote best practices in mining and enhance dialogue between the two groups.  
  • Thirty representatives of government, civil society, the private sector, and implementing partners have received training on child labor.

International Labor Organization (ILO)

Implementing Partners:


Contact Information: / (202) 693-4843 / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)