A coalition of philanthropic partners based in Switzerland is inviting the cocoa and chocolate industry to jointly tackle the root causes of child labor in Côte d’Ivoire by promoting change at the systemic level.
The Jacobs Foundation and its philanthropic partners have pledged an initial CHF30m ($30.69m) investment. However, the Foundation says it is also seeking co-investment commitments of at least CHF15m from the cocoa and chocolate industry by the end of February 2020.
Quality education and early childhood development
The Jacobs Foundation and its philanthropic partners, including the UBS Optimus Foundation, said the sum will provide seed funding for two pooled funding facilities designed to promote quality education and early childhood development, in line with the Ivorian government’s strategic objectives, and is aimed at complementing existing public-private partnerships.
The first facility, the Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF), aims to reach five million primary school-aged children and 10 million parents in cocoa growing areas and beyond, focusing on quality education.
The second, the Early Learning and Nutrition Facility (ELAN), is designed to reach 1.3 million children below the age of five and their caregivers, providing quality services and training in early childhood development.
The two facilities have a target capitalization of CHF150m, to be contributed by the cocoa and chocolate industry, the Ivorian government, and international development donors.
To launch CLEF and ELAN, the Jacobs Foundation says it requires matching commitments of at least CHF15m from the cocoa and chocolate industry by the end of February 2020.
Spokesperson Irina Hotz told ConfectioneryNews: “We have presented and discussed the proposal with a range of relevant stakeholders from government, industry and other donors over the last months and received positive signals across the board. There is a genuine interest from all stakeholders to truly tackle the challenge at hand and move from remediation to prevention in a systemic approach. We expect to be able to announce a broader partnership within the upcoming weeks.”
Côte d’Ivoire leads the world in the production and export of cocoa beans for the manufacture of chocolate, and its smallholder cocoa farmers account for almost 40% of global cocoa production. Yet in rural areas, more than half of men and almost three-quarters of women between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate, says The Jacob Foundation.
A 2015 national survey found that two million children were performing hazardous work in cocoa production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Fabio Segura, co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation, said: “Despite recent advancement in Côte d’Ivoire’s and the industry’s efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, we believe there continues to be resource and coordination gap to eradicate it. This reality calls into question the speed and scalability of the industry’s response and suggests the need for a disruption, shifting the approach from remediation to prevention; from single projects to multi-stakeholder alliances; from action at individual supply chain to the national level, and from counting children in the fields to ensuring learning outcomes in schools.”
The Jacobs Foundation and its partners said its initiatives could serve as blueprints for effective private-public partnerships to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“With its seed-funding JF aims to catalyze a multi-stakeholder partnership building on government and industry strategies to curb child labor and promote quality education,” said Hotz. “Specifically, this includes: The 10-year Education Sector Plan, the National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor, and the National Multisectoral Nutrition Plan. The initiatives are further envisaged to be complementary to, and to catalyze, joint action within the scope of existing broader public-private partnerships addressing child labor in Côte d’Ivoire.”