Illegal child labor remains a prevalent problem in the cocoa supply chain due to severe poverty, as well as a lack of awareness. Children helping their parents out on their farm is not illegal by itself, but the exposure to hazardous activities, as well as working long hours make it into an illegal activity. Additionally, there are cases where children are forced to work away from their family and do not have the option to stop. They are abducted by traffickers, taken far from their homes and forced to work on strangers’ cocoa farms. Illegal child labor occurs far more often than modern slavery. Illegal child labor can occur at different levels of severity as is defined by the ILO.
To fight child labor, we started to implement a system developed by ICI and Nestlé. The so-called CLMRS stands for Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System. This system helps the coops we work with to identify instances of illegal child labor, find alternative solutions, and prevent the use of illegal child labor by raising awareness around the topic. The CLRMS aims to get a child out of child labor within a period of 6 to 12 months after the case is found. The cooperatives, with support from ICI and Tony's, roll out the system to all their members, moving beyond the farmers we work with, aiming to reach the entire community.
1. Facilitator selection: Via democratic decision-making by the community, intrinsically motivated farmers are selected as community facilitators.
2. Household visits: The community facilitator visits households periodically to have conversations in a safe setting about what children are allowed and not allowed to do and why. A survey is conducted and the information is entered into the mobile app.
3. Identification: The field officer, working at the office of the cooperative, validates the data and identifies cases of illegal child labor.
4. Follow-Up: The situation is discussed between the household and the community facilitator and an additional survey is conducted to find out which remediation actions to take. ICI and Tony's provide support.
5. Remediation: At cooperative level remediation efforts are planned. These include things like health insurances and birth certificates (see section below).
6. Community development: Long-term solutions beyond specific cases and cocoa farmers are sought, such as the improvement of education, sanitation, healthcare and access to diverse income.
7. Measurement: Follow-up surveys are conducted with the household to check the effectiveness of the implemented remediation efforts.
Ongoing throughout the process, not an audit: Community and household awareness raising sessions where talks and meetings are held to publicly educate about children’s rights. Tony’s Ambassadors often join these get-togethers to inspire parents and children and celebrate successes.
R = Remediation
The system offers several ‘quick fix’ solutions, for example arranging birth certificates so that a child can go to school, setting up health insurance policies, organizing bicycles to cycle to school, as well as wheelbarrows to prevent heavy lifting. After many interviews, a strong correlation could be traced between community factors (e.g. availability of electricity, school proximity, and access to drinking water) and child labor. Parents in Ghana and Ivory Coast want the best for their children but sometimes they don't see any alternative to letting their child work on the farm.
Parents may feel that their child is better off working on the plantation with them, than to be alone at a school 30 km away. In instances such as these, we can help by building a local school through the Chocolonely Foundation. In addition, the quality of education is often so poor that parents do not see the added value of sending their children to school, and job opportunities after school are often limited, therefore children and parents lack motivation. It is important to emphasize that it's still good for children to learn what their parents do for a living, but only by contributing in form of easy labor.
So far since the start of the implementation in 2017, 547 cases have been found, and 259 cases of illegal child labor in our supply chain in 2018/2019. At this point, 86 cases have been remediated, 381 cases are in remediation, and 80 cases have been identified but have not been acted upon yet. The respective cooperatives are developing remediation plans to make sure that these cases receive follow-up as well. However, the remediation process should initiate faster; there should be the option for the cooperative to start remediating right after finding a case. This is one of the reasons why we actively push for the coops to become owners of the CLMRS. In the past year, 5,033 households participated in the CLMRS and there were in total 25,846 participations in the awareness sessions organized at community level.