Families in Papua New Guinea harvest cocoa

Tackling root causes of child labour is possible, says World Vision

  • Children must be free to pursue an education instead of involved in harmful labour
  • New Washington Post investigation exposes the lack of progress in ending child labour in cocoa farming

June 6 – It’s too easy to say tackling the root causes of child labour cannot be done.

That’s the view of World Vision today after The Washington Post published a compelling insight into the harmful labour and trafficking suffered by children in the cocoa industry in West Africa. Children as young as 12 work in cocoa fields far from home, carrying heavy loads, wielding sharp machetes, and exposed to dangerous chemicals as they spray pesticides.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We know it’s possible to tackle the root causes and see an end to this practice,” said Andrew Morley, World Vision International’s President and CEO. “Certification and auditing schemes have a role to play, but child labour can only be ended when children, communities, governments, companies, and organisations like World Vision commit to working together and scaling up what we know works, no matter how difficult it seems. Children deserve better.

“It takes improving family incomes, making sure children have access to affordable and high-quality education, putting in place mechanisms to identify and refer cases of child labour at the community level, and raising awareness of children’s rights.”

More than 152 million children globally are involved in child labour, and over 70% of them work in agriculture, farming coffee, palm oil, and avocados[1]; two million children are working in cocoa in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire alone[2]. World Vision urges cocoa firms to nurture long-term relationships with supplying communities, develop creative and sustainable solutions to any risks to human rights in their supply chains, and share their commitments and their progress with the public.

“In Ghana, we have worked with Mondelez International and Cadbury to end child labour in cocoa-growing communities. We have reached more than 50,000 children through our work there, but as yesterday’s report shows, there is still much more to do. It will take everyone working together to end child labour.

“We’re committed to supporting efforts to end all forms of child labour by 2025 in more 70 countries, through our global campaign It takes a world to end violence against children. Our teams in Canada and Finland have been lobbying their governments for changes to supply chain legislation, while in countries like Mexico, Indonesia, and Ghana we’re working with companies, government, communities and children to end child labour.”

[1] ILO. Global Estimates of Child Labour: Results and Trends, 2012-2016. Geneva, 2017. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575499.pdf

[2] Cocoa Barometer 2018. http://www.cocoabarometer.org/cocoa_barometer/Download_files/2018 per cent20Cocoa per cent20Barometer per cent20180420.pdf