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

Project Duration
October 2018
May 2024
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. COTECCO also is establishing Workers’ Rights Centers to provide information and free legal assistance to support workers in the mining sector in the fight against child labor.


  1. The COTECCO project supported the Government of the DRC in creating and implementing the Interministerial Commission in charge of Monitoring Child Labor in Artisanal Mining and the provincial commission in Lualaba. 
  2. The project has trained over 150 representatives of government, civil society, the private sector, and implementing partners on child labor and the worst forms of child labor. These trainings provided participants with monitoring and remediation tools to combat child labor. 
  3. 28 mining companies and cooperatives have begun using ILAB’s Comply Chain tool and are implementing other monitoring and remediation efforts on child labor in Lualaba and Haut-Katanga regions.
  4. The project worked with the Government of the DRC to develop and implement a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLRMS), training 79 national and provincial stakeholders on how to run the CLRMS. As of September 2023, 2,799 children in Lualaba and Haut Katanga provinces were registered in the CLMRS database pilot program, including 1,182 girls and 1,614 boys, and are being assessed for services.