21 April 2020

Five ways innovation can tackle child labour

The problems faced by the world today need out of the box thinking. Child labour is no exception. At the International Cocoa Initiative, we know the power of innovation; that’s why we’re constantly seeking out new ways to achieve impact and scale up what already works. Here are five of the ways that we, with the support of our partners, are innovating to protect children in cocoa-growing communities.

Testing the impact of cash transfers

Cash transfers are an effective way of reducing poverty, one of the root causes of child labour. But can they be used to tackle child labour itself? ICI has conducted a review of evidence to answer this very question. Based on the findings, which show that under certain conditions cash transfers have been successful in reducing child labour, we’re putting them to the test in cocoa-growing communities in Ghana. Find out more about this joint project with Nestlé and ECOM, supported by SECO.

Identifying cocoa communities at risk of child labour

Not every community has the same risk of child labour. To better target assistance to those communities in need, it is essential to know which ones are most at risk. Research across 258 cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana allowed ICI to identify 12 characteristics than can be used to estimate a community’s child labour risk. The Child Labour Risk Calculator is the result. This free, online tool can be used by all stakeholders in the cocoa sector to identify which communities are most at risk, and should be prioritised for assistance.

Narrowing the focus on child labour risk at the household level

We’ve already seen that not every community has the same risk of child labour. The same is true for households. A range of factors, such as parents’ level of education, and the age and sex of children, can be used to predict the likelihood that children will be exposed to hazardous work. In partnership with the German Development Agency GIZ and others, we are working on another innovation project to help cooperatives use their existing farmer data to identify and prioritise households at higher risk. Learn more about the project here.

Developing tools to identify forced labour risk

Forced labour is a complex and highly sensitive issue. Less prevalent than child labour in the cocoa sector but no less necessary to address, new approaches are required to tackle forced labour risks for adults and children. Last year we launched a pilot project that is leading the development of a series of data collection tools to better identify workers at risk. Combined with measures to raise awareness, prevent, and address forced labour risks, these tools are being piloted in several communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Learn more here.

Improving data collection for child labour monitoring and remediation

In 2012, ICI launched its first Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in partnership with Nestlé. Eight years later, we’ve scaled the system up considerably. We’re now working with multiple partners to cover over 150,000 households, in which we identify, support and follow-up child labour cases. The CLMRS approach has already proven to be successful – half of children identified in child labour stop doing hazardous work by the next follow up visit – but we’re keen to keep improving. Using the latest technologies for mobile data collection and storage makes data entry quicker and easier, reduces errors, and helps us monitor and analyse data in real time. These are some of the reasons why ICI has been upgrading its CLMRS mobile app. We’re also working on data visualisation dashboards, so our partners can monitor progress more easily, and enhancing data storage and security to ensure information stays safe. Learn more about the CLMRS here.

This article is part of a series highlighting what works to tackle child labour (more information here). At ICI we are working with our partners and the wider cocoa sector to ensure that these activities are scaled up as part of child protection systems to reach all those in need. Find out more in our 2021-2026 strategy.