19 May 2020

Tackling Child Labour in Cameroon’s Cocoa Supply Chain

In 2019, the International Cocoa Initiative began working with its partner Cargill in Cameroon to support cocoa farmers to address child labour through the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS).*

Cameroon is one of the world’s largest cocoa producing countries. The crop is a vital source of income for thousands of farmers, their families and communities. As in other cocoa-producing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, poverty and lack of social infrastructure in cocoa-growing communities are commonplace, raising the risk of child labour. Recognising the need for action to protect children and create sustainable supply chains, ICI and Cargill began working in Cameroon in September 2019.

ICI supported Cargill to set up the CLMRS across 17 cocoa cooperatives, covering 146 communities, within the company’s joint venture supply chain in Cameroon. Once fully operational, the system will identify and track children in child labour, in addition to providing remediation activities suited to the local context and tailored to the specific needs of the children identified. These activities can include targeted awareness raising, the development of educational infrastructure, Income Generating Activities to support farming families, and more. This follows on from Cargill’s ongoing work in West Africa that has seen over 58,000 farmers in its supply chain reached by the CLMRS.

The initial steps in the project saw 71 field facilitators trained on child protection and the CLMRS methods. Facilitators receive training on a wide range of topics to help them carry out their work, including the definitions of light work and child labour, and details of child protection, child safeguarding and awareness raising, in addition to information on data collection processes and personal data protection. So far, these agents have visited around 5,000 farming households, interviewing families, and their children, conducting awareness raising sessions on hazardous child labour and monitoring for any cases.

These visits allow Cargill, with ICI’s support, to identify and develop remediation targeted at the community, household or individual level. Ongoing monitoring then enables the impact on child labour to be tracked and further remediation provided as necessary.

“Expanding our work into Cameroon is an exciting and new experience, allowing us to utilise our expertise to benefit more children in cocoa-growing communities in a new context. This has involved attuning our awareness raising materials to the local context and legal environment. We’ve also had to adapt the CLMRS data collection tools; we’ll be continuing to improve them based on our experience so far and through the next steps that will be implemented over the coming months,” explained Matthias Lange, ICI’s Director of Policy and Programmes. “All of this is essential before upscaling the system in Cargill’s supply chain in Cameroon if we’re to have an impact, as cut and paste solutions to an issue as complex as child labour simply do not work.”

“By embedding the CLMRS structure in our supply chain in Cameroon, we are supporting the communities we work with to tackle child labour, while putting in place measures that benefit farmers, their families and children,” said Taco Terheijden, Cargill’s Director of Cocoa and Chocolate Sustainability. “Through the CLMRS, and with ICI’s support, we will be able to pinpoint those households and children that are in need and identify what sort of intervention is needed.”

* Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic ICI’s work supporting Cargill in Cameroon has been temporarily scaled back to ensure the safety of communities and staff. For more information on our response please see here.

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