A coalition of 11 cocoa and chocolate companies, the Jacobs Foundation and other philanthropic partners have joined forces with the Ivorian government to jointly tackle root causes of child labor in Côte d’Ivoire.
As well as The Jacobs Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation and the Ivorian government, the coalition also includes Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Chocolonely Foundation, ECOM, Ferrero, Hershey, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Olam Cocoa and Touton.
They will jointly provide the necessary seed funding to launch two pooled funding facilities with a target capitalization CHF 150m ($154m) to promote effective learning and early childhood development at scale in Côte d’Ivoire and tackle the root causes of child labor.
The first of the two funding initiatives, the Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF), aims to reach 5 million children and 10 million parents in cocoa growing areas and beyond, focusing on access to quality primary education.
The second initiative, the Early Learning and Nutrition Facility (ELAN), is designed to reach 1.3 million children below the age of 5 and their caregivers, providing quality services and training in early childhood development and nutrition.
To reach the target capitalization for the two facilities, additional stakeholders will be invited to join the coalition.
The government of Côte d’Ivoire has developed a National Action Plan to combat child labor, and a decisive milestone was reached on April 15, when the Council of Ministers committed to an agreement laying the ground for this unprecedented public-private partnership.
Threat of COVID-19 virus
In the face of the challenges associated with COVID-19, this public private partnership becomes more important than ever, a spokesperson for the Jacobs Foundation said.
“To protect its population from the threat of COVID-19 virus, the Ivorian government, as many governments in other parts of the world, has closed schools. While important from a public health perspective, this measure will significantly impact learning and development opportunities of Ivorian children.
“The World Bank further warns that the coronavirus will push Sub-Saharan Africa into recession, which would place increasing pressure on farmer incomes, and research shows that when household incomes decrease, child labor tends to increase."
Alexander von Maillot, Global head confectionery and ice cream Strategic Business Unit at Nestlé, said: "We are pleased to contribute to the CLEF initiative to improve quality of education in Côte d'Ivoire. It builds on the work we have been doing with Jacobs Foundation under their TRECC program. Since 2012, Nestlé has contributed to improving access to education in the rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire. As part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, we have built or refurbished 49 schools in the cocoa growing communities. CLEF complements our wider actions to tackle child labor through the roll-out of the 'Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System’. It helps address some of the root causes of child labor."
Fabio Segura, Co-CEO of Jacobs Foundation, said: “This is a unique opportunity to come together and rigorously address the root causes of child labor and promote quality education in a systemic manner. All partners strongly believe that only joint forces will ultimately bring sustainable change.”