The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire and the International Cocoa Initiative – Partners in the fight against child labour
The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has signed a Partnership Agreement with the National Surveillance Committee (CNS) presided by the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, to promote child protection and reduce child labour in the Ivorian cocoa sector.
The agreement expands further their existing mutual support in priority areas of the Ivorian government‘s 2015—2017 National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour, in particular the reinforcement and extension of the National Child Labour Monitoring System (“Système d’Observation et de Suivi du Travail des Enfants en Côte d’Ivoire” (SOSTECI) and the construction and renovation of schools.
Under the Partnership Agreement, ICI and the CNS will support together the reinforcement of SOSTECI in the 9 Departments where it is operational today and will collaborate on its extension to other cocoa producing departments, establishing a national database that will provide for better coordination of various actors undertaking child labour monitoring, and a better follow-up and assistance for vulnerable children identified as being engaged in the worst forms of labour.
Furthermore, ICI and CNS will collaborate to develop a mapping system to help track and coordinate ongoing school construction efforts. ICI will build 5 new primary schools and will work to improve social infrastructure and child protection capacities in another 80 cocoa-growing communities.
“I remain convinced that education is the alternative and the most effective long-term response in the fight against child labour” said Dominique Ouattara, First Lady of Ivory Coast. “Between 2011 and 2016, we built and rehabilitated 17,829 preschool and primary classrooms as well as 155 secondary schools. However, the needs remain considerable. Therefore, the commitment of ICI, through this Partnership Agreement, to build, renovate and equip classrooms and other social infrastructure in 85 cocoa-growing communities, constitutes for us a significant support that I would like to recognize.”
“This is a momentous occasion for ICI. We are truly honoured to be partnering with the First Lady as she continues to bring extraordinary leadership, dynamism and passion to the fight against child labour in Cote d’Ivoire. In this Partnership Agreement, ICI is committing to work hand in hand with the government of Cote d’Ivoire as it implements its 2015-2017 National Action Plan, “said Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director. “In the activities foreseen under this MoU, ICI is also advancing its own strategic vision, harnessing the efforts of different actors into coordinated, collective action that will positively affect the lives of many thousands of children.”