Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor tasked NORC to conduct a survey representative children age 5-17 living in agricultural households in the cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana during the 2018-19 cocoa harvest season. The goal of the survey was to develop population estimates for the prevalence of working children, child labor, and the worst forms of child labor in agriculture, and then compare those estimates to estimates from 2008-09 and 2013-14. In addition, NORC assessed the effectiveness of interventions to reduced child labor and the worst forms of child labor in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The study represents a five-year collaboration between NORC, the U.S Department of Labor, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, representatives from the international cocoa and chocolate industry, civil society organizations, and several international organizations with an interest in child labor, including UNICEF, the International Cocoa Initiative, and the International Labour Organization. The final report of the study is the outcome of that collaborative effort to accurately measure and report on the issue of child labor and hazardous child labor in the cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

As part of this study, NORC administered 2,809 household head surveys, 5,552 child surveys, 158 community surveys, 372 cocoa shed surveys, and 260 school surveys across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The data from 2018-19 survey round show that among children living in agricultural households in cocoa growing areas 45 percent were engaged in child labor and 43 percent were engaged in hazardous child labor in cocoa production in aggregate. The country-specific data indicate that, in agricultural households in cocoa growing areas, 38 percent of children in Côte d’Ivoire and 55 percent of children in Ghana were engaged in child labor in cocoa production. Also, the country-specific data show that 37 percent of children in Côte d’Ivoire and 51 percent of children in Ghana were engaged in hazardous child labor in cocoa production. Amid a 14 percent increase in cocoa production between 2013-14 and 2018-19 in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in aggregate, the prevalence of child labor in cocoa production among cocoa growing households in each individual country remained stable. Historic trends indicate that amid a 62 percent increase in cocoa production between 2008-09 and 2018-19 in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in aggregate, the prevalence of child labor in cocoa production among all agricultural households increased 14 percentage points, while the prevalence of hazardous child labor increased by 13 percentage points.

Other Key Findings:

  • Cocoa is a key part of agriculture in the cocoa growing areas of both countries, as can be seen from the fact that in 2018-19 84% of agricultural households were growing cocoa.
  • School attendance among children in agricultural households in cocoa growing areas increased from 58 to 80 percent in Côte d’Ivoire and from 89 to 96 percent in Ghana between 2008-09 and 2018-19.
  • While the prevalence rate of child labor did not increase in the high cocoa production areas, it increased substantially in low and medium production areas between 2008-09 and 2018-19. There was a similar trend in the change in prevalence of exposure to hazardous work during the same period.
  • When multiple interventions were implemented in a community, they led to a statistically significant reduction in the rates of child labor and hazardous child labor in cocoa production.

Based on these findings, our report made several recommendations, including:

  • Engage community leaders, including representatives for women and youth, early in the design of interventions to ensure that objectives and implementation plans are realistic and relevant to the community.
  • Create open and early relationships with government partners at national and regional levels so they are well-positioned to move intervention activities forward.
  • Maintain and participate in national action plans and steering committees on child labor and child protection.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor under Cooperative Agreement number IL-28104-15-75-K-17. One hundred percent of the total costs of the project was financed with federal funds, for a total of $3,458,681.00. The statements found in the report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.



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For questions about the Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana report please email cocoareport@norc.org

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