ABOCFA FARMERS TAKE INITIATIVE TO ENFORCE CHILD PROTECTION IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
One of the female farmers making a contribution during the community wide meeting.
The members of ABOCFA, the organic cocoa farmers’ cooperative working with Tony’s Chocolonely and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) to eliminate child labour from their farms, have come out with rules and regulations to promote child protection in their communities.
The process, which started in June, is led by Joseph Mensah, one of Ambassadors for Tony’s Chocolonely and a Community Facilitator (CF) with the Child labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) being implemented with the cooperative. According to Joseph, volunteering as an Ambassador and Community Facilitator opened his eyes to the challenges and issues which were not protective of children. He believed the most effective way to stop this was to put in place these by-laws.
The document was a joint initiative developed by the farmers with the help of ICI, government institutions like Center for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Department of Community Development and Social Welfare, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Municipal Labour Department, the leadership of the community and ABOCFA.
Josephine Jokoto, the Municipal Director of the Department of Community Development and Social Welfare for the Suhum Municipality, was very pleased with the farmers’ initiative to have by-laws to guide how children and adults live in their communities. She indicated that this was a laudable idea which can shape the socio-economic development of all the communities involved.
The by-laws look at areas such as playing loud music at night, protecting the school environment, creating a conducive environment for children to study both at school and in the house, putting in place the right measures to prevent teenage pregnancy and other child protection issues.
The by-laws are binding on eight (8) communities with a general population of 2631 people. Speaking with some of the leaders of the community, they indicated their joy at this achievement and are striving to put in place the necessary structures to ensure the rules are implemented without consideration for to promote their acceptance by all.
Representing the parents in the communities, Wisdom Akolotey, the Chairperson of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) for the Junior High School (JHS) in Aponoapono, spoke of how the meetings towards the formation of the by-laws brought home the deplorable state of their children’s education as they indulge in activities such as gambling, truancy and night partying. According to Wisdom, “We also realized that some of our actions, such as letting our animals sleep on the veranda of the school and graze on the school compound were not encouraging our children’s love for education. These practices need to stop to ensure a better future for our children.”
The chief of the community, Nene Barfour Chartey Kwaumo, said “I realized that we needed a lot of discipline in our community, especially when it comes to the pupils. Having by-laws to guide our actions will help the community to instill the discipline that we need as well as protect our children. As leaders of the community, we have resolved to make these laws work regardless of the affected party. We will set up a task force to oversee its enforcement and ensure that they are obeyed by everyone, and defaulters are punished as stated.”