CLMRS is a structured approach to fight child labor in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
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 isn’t illegal, 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. There are different levels of severity of child labor, and those levels are 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 Labour 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: Intrinsically motivated farmers are selected as community facilitators via democratic decision-making by the community.
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 (yep, there’s an app for that!).
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 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 streams.
7. Measurement: Follow-up surveys are conducted with the household to check the effectiveness of the implemented remediation efforts.
Community and household awareness-raising sessions are also ongoing throughout the process. Talks and meetings are held to publicly inform 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 providing 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 (almost 18 miles) 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 forms of easy labor that they can handle.
The results Between the start of the implementation in 2017 and 2020, 7,264 households joined the CLMRS, and we found 387 cases of illegal child labor in our supply chain in 2019/2020. At this point, 221 cases have been remediated, and 471 cases have been identified and are currently under remediation (you can read updates on this in every annual FAIR report, for these numbers check out the report for 2019/2020). 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 2019/2020, there were in total 55,422 participations in the awareness sessions organized at the community level. We think that’s a pretty good start.