Child labour in the West African cocoa sector

This report, Child Labour in the West African Cocoa Sector, is one of two desk-based reviews commissioned by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) on the topic of child labour in high-risk sectors and high-risk countries.

20151126 Child labour in the West African cocoa sector-EMN

Drying the fermented cocoa beans in the backyard of a cocoa-producing community in Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Eva-Maria Niedermeier / ILPI.

NBIM manages the Government Pension Fund Global on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, which owns the fund on behalf of the Norwegian people. NBIM has been entrusted with safeguarding and building financial wealth for future generations. The fund is large, global and with a long-term investment horizon. The fund is invested in most listed markets, sectors and companies in order to capture global value creation and diversify risk.

The aim of the report is three-fold: firstly, to understand the status quo of child labour in specific high-risk sectors or geographic areas (India, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana); secondly, to identify how child labour practices vary across sectors and between international and domestic companies; and, thirdly, to ascertain how other wider social issues either impact on, or are impacted by child labour.

West Africa supplies two-thirds of the world’s total cocoa crop, and much of that comes from two countries: Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Production is fragmented with crops being grown predominantly by smallholder farmers on plots of land that average five hectares. Cocoa farming is labour-intensive and poor farmers are typically unable to afford hired workers. They rely instead on their families as the only viable means of help. As of 2013-14 an estimated 2 million children were working in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Of these, 1.15 million could be found in Côte d’Ivoire and approximately 880,000 in Ghana.

The focus of this report is on three key areas. The first of these is how child labour manifests itself in the cocoa production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The report then goes on to explore various (related) causes and effects of child labour practices. Thirdly, it considers whether (and how) corporate practices in relation to child labour and children’s rights vary amongst domestic and multinational enterprises.

Download the publication (PDF) here.

ILPI 2015, Child labour in the West African cocoa sector, International Law and Policy Institute, Oslo.
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