Assin communities count their successes
Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) are ICI’s most important local stakeholders in cocoa-growing communities. These women and men are motivated to work towards increased child protection and sustainable development in their communities. Next to being our immediate partners and contact persons on the ground, they also sensitize their communities about child labour and function as a local regulatory body.
ICI has recently conducted a training workshop for CCPC members from a dozen selected cocoa-growing communities in Assin North and South, in the central region of Ghana. The objective of the workshop was to further strengthen their capacities – modules included the implementation of their Community Action Plans (CAPs), advocacy, resource mobilisation, participatory monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, the CCPC members could share valuable feedback from their communities and reflect upon their successes and areas where improvements still need to be done.
Some noted that children who formerly were loitering in the community are now active and very punctual in school. Communal spirit resulting out of communal labour has been revived leading to ownership of community projects. Carting of heavy loads by children living with others has reduced but not completely eradicated.
Other participants noted that there has been improvement in communal hygiene – children are helping clean the principal streets of the community on Sundays. Some parents reported that there has been significant improvement in their provision of food or pocket money to children to encourage school attendance and retention.
The CCPC members were glad to share that there was significant reduction of the cases of children who formerly harvested cocoa on their own using the sickle (harvesting hook). The capacity of some community members has been developed on child labour and child development and parents now acting as agents for sensitization on child labour. Other members indicated that children have now refrained from getting contact with chemical and farmers have equally refrained from storing chemicals in the bedrooms by making storage boxes/cages. There is an increased involvement of the youth, children and women in public decision making and also there is a reduction of children’s involvement in bush burning and local palm wine tapping.
The group noted that following their equipment with training child labour tools kits, awareness raising posters, bicycles, megaphones, rechargeable speakers with microphones, rain coats and wellington boots by ICI, their work has now become a lot easier.
The CCPCs have on their own undertaken a number of activities to create awareness on child labour, hazardous labour, bush burning, carting of heavy loads, chemical application, etc. at community wide meetings, churches and mosques in their communities.
The community leaders identified resources available in the community as well as resources needed from outside to implement their action plans and are also preparing to present their CAPs to the Local Government District Assemblies for possible incorporation into their annual action of medium term development plans.
In the meantime, ICI is supporting the construction various educational infrastructural projects in the communities. The communities on their own are undertaking a number of activities toward the implementation of their action plans including but not limited to mobilizing local resources for the construction of 8 standard classrooms at Abease, training of 7 women in Soap making at Akweteykrom etc.
The Assin South district Assembly has also through the Business Advisory Centre (BAC) trained about 28 youth and women in gari processing and extraction of improved kinds of oil palm at Assin Dosii as part of the implementation of the CAPs.