Human Rights

The World Cocoa Foundation and our members are committed to fighting child labor in the cocoa supply chain.

According to the International Labor Organization, child labor is widespread in African agriculture, which is largely based on family farms. A recent report by NORC at the University of Chicago indicates that about 1.6 million children engage in child labor on cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two main producers of cocoa. Smallholders often struggle there with poverty and poor infrastructure. They have few labor alternatives other than their children. Limited access to schools, cultural practices, lack of awareness and gender inequalities also drive child labor.

This is not right. WCF helps achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 by convening cocoa and chocolate companies in fighting child labor.

The Challenge of Child Labor and Cocoa

What Are We Doing to Stop Child Labor in Cocoa?

Cocoa and chocolate companies, governments and partners such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) have been working together since 2001 to eliminate child labor in cocoa, with a focus on boosting and diversifying farmer income, child labor monitoring and remediation, gender empowerment, school construction and rehabilitation, and awareness-raising.

These programs have had good results:

  • A recent study demonstrates that hazardous child labor has been reduced by one-third in communities where company programs are in place.
  • Governments’ actions on education have led to almost all children now attending school in Ghana, and 4 out 5 in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • The more than 60 percent increase in total cocoa production over the past 10 years did not bring a similar surge in child labor.

Now, more investments and a focus on root causes are needed to scale up impact. We are working on a more transformational approach to ending child labor in cocoa with the producing and consuming governments, UN agencies, farmer groups, and civil society organizations.

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Children Belong in Classrooms, Not in the Field Photo: Lucy OBryan Absolute Options LLC
Photo of children in school in a cocoa growing community in West Africa
Almost all children are now in school in Ghana, and 4 out of 5 in Côte d'Ivoire
100% by 2025 coverage of child labor monitoring and remediation systems

To protect children, leading companies will increase the coverage of child labor monitoring and remediation systems to 100% by 2025, from about 20% in 2019, in their direct supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

 

How is this making a difference? Read Bernice’s story here. Watch this video to understand how community facilitator Opong Poku protects children in his community.

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Millions of farmers rely on cocoa for their livelihoods, notably in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, the top producers
$1.2 billion in additional revenues for cocoa farmers

To help raise farmers out of poverty, companies have supported the new Living Income Differential pricing policy of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in 2020/21 that will provide an estimated $1.2 billion in additional revenues for cocoa farmers on top of official market prices.

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With training and coaching, farmers can grow more cocoa and less land
100% by 2025 farmers in coaching

To boost household incomes and yields, leading companies will reach 100% coverage by 2025 of all farmers in their direct supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana with training, coaching, or farm development plans on good agricultural practices.

 

Why? Read how coaching and hard work changed Elizabeth’s life here, and how it helped Kenneth support his family here. Watch this video testimony by Dogo Soko Gabriel here.

Children in a cocoa community in school
We must ensure today’s generation of children reach their full potential and have a chance at the bright future they deserve
$65 million invested in 2019 to address child labor

In 2019, companies invested $65 million in a wide range of social development activities to address child labor, covering child protection, education, community development, income diversification for vulnerable households, and other child survival activities – about six-times higher than what was spent a year in 2001-18.

What is the Harkin Engel Protocol?

Child labor remains a persistent challenge in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, despite major efforts by the governments, industry, cocoa-growing communities and development partners. Under the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol, and the 2010 Framework of Action, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, in partnership with the United States Department of Labor and chocolate and cocoa companies, are committed to reducing child labor in cocoa-growing areas. The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) was established under the Protocol to eliminate child labor.

Is There Forced Labor in Cocoa?

Forced labor in agriculture has been a persistent and abhorrent global issue. The U.S. Department of Labor flags forced labor risk in peanuts from Bolivia, sugarcane from Brazil, sesame from Burma, tomatoes from Mexico, cotton from Pakistan, fish from Thailand, cotton from Uzbekistan, and cocoa from West Africa.

Forced labor is not the same as child labor. How? Read this explainer by ILO’s Benjamin Smith for more details.

The cocoa and chocolate industry has zero tolerance for any instances of forced labor, modern slavery or human trafficking in the supply chain. Though unacceptable, forced labor is extremely rare in cocoa farming, with about 1% of children in child labor estimated to be in that very serious situation. Any evidence found by companies is reported to the local authorities who have the power to pursue, arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators.

  • Sustainability, cocoa sustainability, sustainable cocoa, why is sustainability important, sustainability defined, sustainability movement, cocoa plant, cocoa bean, cacao, raw cacao, deforestation, what is deforestation

    Featured Experts Tim McCoy

    Vice President for Country Relations
    World Cocoa Foundation
  • Sustainability, cocoa sustainability, sustainable cocoa, why is sustainability important, sustainability defined, sustainability movement, cocoa plant, cocoa bean, cacao, raw cacao, deforestation, what is deforestation

    Featured Experts Youssouf N’djoré

    Director of Social Development
    World Cocoa Foundation

Fighting child labor in cocoa