The US Department of Labor, in a response to the NORC’s recent report into child labour in cocoa-producing regions of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, has awarded $8m in grants to engage cooperatives to help fight the problem of child labour abuses in the cocoa sector.
The independent research organisation, affiliated with the University of Chicago, revealed that child labour in the two countries remains a significant problem, in the study which was also co-funded by the Department of Labor.
Save the Children and Winrock International will each be awarded $4m grants for cooperative agreements to implement technical assistance projects. Both organisations will work to reduce child labour in these countries’ cocoa supply chains by enhancing cocoa cooperatives’ capacity to monitor child labour and provide greater support to households with children at risk of child labour.
The grant is made available through the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, whose mission is to ‘promote a fair global playing field for workers in the US and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labour standards and combating international child labour, forced labour and human trafficking’.
In a separate initiative, the European Union is pledging over 1bn euros over six years to aid Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa sector as it adapts to EU supply chain laws due to be introduced later this year.
“In the context of our future programming for 2021-2027, the EU is envisaging a Team Europe initiative which could mobilise up to one billion euros to accompany Ivory Coast in the transition towards sustainable cocoa production,” EU Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Jobst von Kirchmann told Reuters.
The European Parliament has been pushing for the 27-nation bloc to introduce laws to prevent the import of commodities and products linked to deforestation and human rights abuses. If the laws are adopted, buyers would be required to trace their inputs through every step of their supply chains, including starting at the level of small farms, Reuters reported.
Earlier this year, the EU said it is also contributing a separate €25m ($30m) to Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to boost sustainability in the region’s cocoa production.