An estimated 1.56 million children were used for cocoa-related child labour in cocoa-growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in 2018/9. This represents 45% of children aged 5-17 in agricultural households. The large majority work on smallholder farms, alongside family, to support their households’ livelihood.
Since child labour is so common, it is a salient human rights risk for any company purchasing cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Forced labour, while less common, is another salient risk. Under the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights, companies have the responsibility to assess their supply chain and show that they are taking action to prevent, address and mitigate human rights abuses linked to it.
Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are a common approach to preventing and addressing child labour, as well as other child rights risks. Monitors visit every household in a community or cooperative to (a) raise awareness, (b) identify children at risk, (c) provide targeted support, (d) follow-up with children over time, until they are no longer at risk.
Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are social traceability systems, that build upon, and remain linked to physical traceability systems. To monitor child labour, physical traceability is an essential starting point. Simply put, without knowing which households, communities and cooperatives are linked to a supply chain, it’s impossible to monitor which individuals are at risk of child labour.
Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are effective in reducing child labour by around a third among children identified. They are also effective at addressing other child rights risks, such as supporting out-of-school children to re-enter formal education, as well as facilitating birth registration for children who lack official documentation.
Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are a collaborative approach, involving farming households, community members and committees, cooperatives, companies, local and national authorities.
Different individuals play different roles within the system: monitors are often local community members, who raise awareness and identify children at risk. Their salary and equipment may be paid by the local cooperative. When a child is identified in child labour, a remediation fund, often provided by the buying company, is used to provide support to the child and household. Bridging classes for out-of-school children are a common form of support – these are set up in collaboration with relevant local and national authorities, for example the Ministry of Education.
Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are already estimated to cover around 25% of cocoa-growing households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, but effective implementation and further up-scaling is needed to cover all children at-risk. To scale up coverage and ensure alignment, there is a need for greater coordination, motivation, and investment by both private and public stakeholders, especially to reach households who are part of the unorganised supply chain.