28 February 2020

Innovating to reduce child labour through targeted income support

Together with Nestléthe International Cocoa Initiative received an innovation grant from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to develop a model to target income support at cocoa-growing households at risk of using child labour. 

ICI’s innovation project also aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of one approach to addressing child labour in cocoa: Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems. We know these systems can reduce child labour, but so far, they reach cover only around 15% of the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Scale-up will only be possible if we are better able to target support where it is needed most, provide effective remediation options, and reduce the cost of putting such systems in place.

Working within Nestlé and ECOM’s supply chain in Ghana, the project’s first phase saw the development of a risk model to identify households at higher risk of child labour. In the same way that ICI’s existing tools, such as the Protective Cocoa Community Framework and Child Labour Risk Calculator, help identify communities at higher risk of child labour, this project applies the same approach to households. Using basic farmer information already held by many farmer cooperatives, the model enables efforts to be focused on households with the highest risk of child labour. The results of the phase one model will soon be published.

Once identified, at-risk households will receive targeted income support in the form of a cash transfer. This approach builds on a growing body of research showing that cash transfers can be effective in improving child wellbeing in several areas, such as education.

The pilot project will be carefully evaluated to better understand the impact cash transfers have on on child labour, where conclusive evidence is still lacking. It will also ensure that what we learn from the project can be fed into ongoing efforts by ICI’s members and partners to prevent and address child labour.

“Innovation is an essential pillar of ICI’s strategy to drive impact at scale in the fight against child labour,” said Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director. “Through this project and others, we’ll support the cocoa sector to better identify where child labour risks are highest, enabling resources and solutions to be prioritized to those households and children most in need.”

ICI will soon share the first results from household-level risk model, as well as a literature review on the impact of cash transfers on child labour.