ICI: Putting children and their education first
Working in 151 cocoa-growing communities over the past year, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) reached 250,000 people in 2014, 100 000 of whom were children. As a direct result of ICI’s specific efforts to promote education last year, 4 000 children now have improved access to quality education and are less likely to be involved in dangerous work on cocoa farms. These are some of the key results captured in ICI’s 2014 Annual Report, launched today on World Day against Child Labour.
WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
Celebrated each year on 12 June, the World Day against Child Labour is observed by the International Labour Organization, other UN bodies, governments and civil society to bring attention to the global issue of child labour and the action needed to eliminate it. This year’s theme stresses the importance of quality education as an alternative to child labour, which is also at the heart of ICI’s strategy. 2014 saw marked improvements in childrens’ access to education in those cocoa-growing communities assisted by ICI, with a 19% increase in the number of children enrolled in school, compared to 2013, including an encouraging 26% increase in the number of girls enrolled.
Results tracked using ICI’s innovative child protection measurement tool (called the ICI Protective Community Framework) additionally show that the total number of schools (kindergarten, primary and secondary) in ICI-assisted communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire increased from 185 in 2013 to 205 in 2014.
ICI’s unique model for child protection continues to prove itself effective, with a steady expansion in the number of child protection initiatives undertaken within ICI-assisted communities, from an average of 4.1 actions per community in 2013, to 5.2 in 2014. 22% of the support for those various community development actions last year came from local government and other local partners compared to 13% in 2013, demonstrating tangible progress in those communities’ ability to attract external support.
CHANGE IS HAPPENING
“We see real how change is happening on the ground as result of our work and, most importantly, how this change is increasingly driven by the communities themselves,“ says Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director. “Our work, and the way we connect with farmers, cocoa-growing communities, local and national authorities, the cocoa industry and civil society, inspires action from many actors at all levels. We must keep this momentum going, and expand it.”
ICI has promoted holistic child protection measures in more than 500 cocoa-growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire over the past eight years, leading to improved access to education for almost 55 000 children. ICI was established to ensure that children in cocoa communities are better protected in the short-term, in spite of poverty-related risks, while also working to tackle the structural causes of child vulnerability in the longer term. Guided by the principles of shared responsibility and collective action, ICI aims to improve child protection for 1 million children in cocoa-growing communities over the next five years.