Not so sweet, hazardous child labour, with a focus on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast

Not so sweet, hazardous child labour, with a focus on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast now accounts for 35% of the world’s cocoa production. Around 900,000 farmers grow the bean, and 3.5 million people depend on it for their livelihoods. The most recent data shows that an estimated 819,921 children worked in the 2008/2009 harvest season. The majority of children working in the cocoa industry are working informally with their own families, making intervention difficult. It remains a challenge to reduce the number of children working under hazardous conditions in the cocoa sector.

Global recommendations:

  • enforcement of national legislation and prosecution against perpetrators of hazardous child labour
  • promote efforts at the national level to mainstream policies against the worst forms of child labour in development strategies; poverty reduction, child social protection and a social protection framework that supports families’ capacity to protect their children
  • national legislation should uphold the age of 18, in line with international human rights standards, as the minimum legal age for hazardous work
  • develop and implement (with the support of relevant stakeholders) programmes to assist victims of child labour, in particular its worst forms and prevent their return to child labour
  • ensure access and attendance to school for all children at least until the minimum age of employment 

Recommendations for Ivory Coast:

  • the government of Ivory Coast should improve national legislation and prosecution against employers guilty of hazardous child labour
  • data collection and monitoring is urgently needed, to identify the number of child labourers working on cocoa plantations
  • programmes for the withdrawal of child labourers from cocoa production should receive continuous support, and alternatives should be provided for children and their families
  • worldwide, the revenue for cocoa famers should be increased in order to lift farmers out of poverty and create a more sustainable cocoa sector for all those involved
  • the government of Ivory Coast should enhance economic opportunities and improve systems of social protection for vulnerable families
  • the government of Ivory Coast should make education compulsory and guarantee access to free, good quality primary education for all children, focusing on remote areas and the children of seasonal cocoa workers
  • awareness needs raised in cocoa communities about the safety risks and health consequences facing children working in cocoa plantations, and about the importance of education
  • the government of Ivory Coast needs to prioritise label certification for fair cocoa initiatives
  • consumers and producers of chocolate should be made aware of the origin of the cocoa beans and the conditions under which they are produced. Governments should play a leading role in ensuring that only sustainable cocoa is imported to their countries


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