The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has been awarded $4.5 million to reduce child labour in 50 cocoa-growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire over the next four years.
ICI won the US government’s competitive funding opportunity with their “Eliminating Child Labour in Cocoa” project proposal aiming to protect children and promote child-centered community-development in 50 cocoa-growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire, and so reduce child labour.
The project will directly benefit 5,450 vulnerable children by providing them with access to formal and non-formal educational opportunities. ICI will also help 1,500 vulnerable households by supporting livelihood services such as income generating activities for women.
“We are hugely excited about this opportunity to expand our operations in Cote in d’Ivoire, to reinforce our work with the government of Cote d’Ivoire and with Ivorian cocoa-farming communities, and to strengthen our direct collaboration with the US Government’s Department of Labour, confirming us as close allies in tackling child labour in cocoa,” says Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director.
There are currently 1.2 million children engaged in child labour in cocoa growing in Côte d’Ivoire, according to the Tulane 2013/14 Survey released in July 2015.
According to ICI, the scale and persistence of the problem underscores the importance and timeliness of a collective commitment to improve child protection and expand community development in cocoa-growing areas.
ICI has been active in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana for the last eight years, working with cocoa producers and their families, civil society, the cocoa and chocolate industry and the governments, to promote child protection and reduce child labour.
In communities assisted to put effective child protection systems in place, ICI has previously seen a 19% increase in the number of children enrolled in school, and a 20% to 40% reduction in child labour.