Mobilizing Community Action and Promoting Opportunities for Youth in Ghana's Cocoa-Growing Communities (MOCA)
Cocoa is one of Ghana’s most important commodities, but farming families face persistent poverty, with the average cocoa farmer’s income equaling approximately $1 a day. Poverty is one of the factors contributing to child labor on cocoa farms. In 2014, some 246,000 youth ages 15–17 worked in cocoa production in Ghana. These youth face hazardous working conditions, including through the use of agrochemicals, and lack awareness about, and training in, safe, productive farming practices acceptable for their age. Some youth in cocoa growing areas also face challenges finding safe work in other sectors and lack the skills needed to secure such opportunities in their communities.
Address child labor in cocoa-growing areas of Ghana through the following objectives:
Objective 1: Cocoa-growing communities design and implement CAPs to address child labor at community level.
Objective 2: At-risk youth possess skills and education directly related to labor market needs.
Objective 3: Youth of legal working age transition to acceptable work.
Objective 4: Households provided with livelihood services and occupational safety and health (OSH) training.
The project is designed to reach these objectives through the following activities:
- Train and support CAP committees to design CAPs.
- Issue grants to cocoa-growing communities to support implementation of CAP activities developed by community members to address child labor.
- Provide advocacy training to CAP committees.
- Conduct training-of-trainers for community members to serve as discussion leaders on issues related to child labor and OSH.
- Support youth-led CAP activities.
- Conduct a market assessment to determine high-demand skill areas.
- Tailor curriculum for agriculture and non-agriculture training that reflects market assessment findings.
- Set up model farm schools (MFS) and vocational training programs that incorporate OSH and soft skills (including literacy, numeracy, leadership, and communication skills) training.
- Provide scholarships to youth for formal education.
- Match youth with appropriate internships or apprenticeships, including with agricultural, technical, or vocational employers.
- Provide follow-up services to help youth secure and retain employment.
- Provide mentorship opportunities.
- Deliver MFS training to adult female household members.
- Assist adult MFS participants in organizing into producer groups and village savings and loans associations (VSLAs).
- Provide OSH training and protective equipment to household members.
- Provide linkages for adult MFS graduates to access markets.
The MOCA Project will empower 40 cocoa-growing communities in the Ashanti and Western Regions to design and implement Community Action Plans (CAPs) to address child labor at the community level. In these communities, the project will use an integrated area-based approach to target 3,200 youth ages 15-17, who are engaged in or at risk of entering child labor in Ghana, with a focus on child labor in the cocoa sector. In addition, the project will provide livelihood services to approximately 1,600 adult female household members as a strategy for reducing household reliance on child labor.
By integrating its government, industry, and community partners into all aspects of project activity planning and implementation, the project ensured its activities would be impactful and sustainable. For example, the project engaged representatives of District Authorities in the development of project community action plans focused on tangible community improvements, such as access to drinking water and school equipment, as well as raising awareness about the risks of child labor. The project then helped District Authorities incorporate elements of these action plans into long-term formal district development plans.
The project established a successful partnership with the Cocoa Board of Ghana (COCOBOD) to provide technical support to the Model Farm School and community cocoa nurseries and supply sustainable hybrid cocoa seedlings to communities. This partnership advanced COCOBOD’s goals of increasing the production of seedlings with shorter cocoa harvest time and pest resistance to support the industry’s sustainability, and creating a new generation of cocoa farmers dedicated to safe and child labor free cocoa production.
The project-supported Village Savings and Loan Association program provided women from mostly poor households with a peer-based source of loans and savings. With these funds, women have been investing more in their children’s education, in the group income generating activities, and, to a limited extent, in individual income generating activities. The savings and loan model has proven responsive to women’s needs, allowing them to contribute at affordable and appropriate levels and increase their economic security.