Supporting Sustainable and Child Labor Free Vanilla-Growing Communities in SAVA (SAVABE)

Project Duration
November 2016
August 2020
Funding and Year

The SAVABE project will aim to reduce child labor in the production of vanilla in the Sava region of Madagascar. The project will assist the vanilla industry to eliminate child labor in Madagascar’s vanilla supply chain and will build the capacity of Madagascar’s law enforcement to enforce child labor laws. The project also will work with local communities to provide an education to children engaged in or at risk of child labor and will help impoverished families by teaching adults marketable skills to increase family income and access to credit through village savings and loan associations.

The Problem

Madagascar is the world’s leading producer of vanilla, representing 85 percent of the global supply. In 2013, Madagascar exported over 2,260 tons of vanilla, valued at over $100 million and sourced approximately 20 percent of vanilla destined for the U.S. market. Over 80,000 farmers, mostly in the Sava region, earn income by growing vanilla on smallholder farms, while over 1,500 vanilla collectors and dozens of large vanilla exporters earn income by buying, processing, reselling, and exporting vanilla. According to a 2012 International Labor Organization study, approximately 20,000 children ages 12 to 17 work in the production of vanilla in Madagascar, accounting for nearly 32 percent of the sector’s workforce. Children are used to hand pollinate flowers and work in the triage and drying process. Children working in vanilla are exposed to high temperatures and also handle toxic chemical products, a hazardous activity that constitutes a worst form of child labor.

Our Strategy

The SAVABE project aims to reduce child labor in the vanilla producing areas of the Sava region of Madagascar through a holistic set of interventions. The project assists vanilla exporters to implement the 2015 code of conduct of vanilla exporters to eliminate child labor in the country’s vanilla supply chain. In support of this, the project works with vanilla exporters to develop anti-child labor policies, build systems to monitor child labor in the production of vanilla, and raise awareness of the harmful effects of child labor among employers, communities, and families.  To complement these efforts, the project trains law enforcement agents to enforce child labor laws and collaborates with local authorities to develop a child labor database that houses information about child labor victims to help improve understanding about the drivers of child labor and strategies for addressing the problem.

The project also works with local communities to monitor child labor through child protection committees. The project will provide educational services to 450 youth of 14 to 17 years of age who are engaged in or at risk of entering child labor. To address the poverty that contributes to child labor, the project targets 15,000 households of children engaged in, or at risk of, child labor for sustainable livelihoods promotion. In particular, the project provides vocational training programs to impoverished families to teach them skills for in-demand jobs in their villages and helps establish village savings and loan programs for families to access credit to finance business ideas and activities to earn additional income to support their children’s education.

The project operates in 32 communes in the four vanilla-growing districts that comprise the Sava region: Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar, and Andapa.


To date, the project has developed a training manual to implement the 2015 code of conduct of vanilla exporters to eliminate child labor. The project has also supported the integration of child labor reduction strategies in regional and local laws and policies. In addition, the project provided educational services to 140 youth of 14 to 17 years of age who are engaged in or at risk of entering child labor and 9,893 vulnerable households with livelihood services.