Labor Department and USAID Release Data from Collaborative Survey on Child Labor on Cocoa Farms in West Africa
West African Governments and U.S. Chocolate Manufacturers Working Jointly with U.S. to Eliminate Problem
OPA News Release: [07/26/2002]
Contact Name: Bob Zachariasiewicz
Phone Number: (202) 693-4686
WASHINGTON The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Labor Department today released key findings that indicate that some 284,000 child laborers work in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms in West Africa, 200,000 of whom work in Côte dIvoire and most of whom work alongside their families. Such hazardous work includes spraying pesticides without personal protection and clearing undergrowth with machetes. There is also evidence that up to 2,500 child workers may have been trafficked for cocoa work in Côte dIvoire and Nigeria.
Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs Tom Moorhead said, These children are not only working in dangerous jobs, they are also losing the chance for an education. Thats a lose-lose proposition. But with this survey information we can better define the problem and in turn design a better program to address the problem. Most important is that the chocolate manufacturers and the West African governments have been working closely with us to eliminate exploitative child labor in the cocoa industry.
Clearly poverty is the underlying cause for the child labor situation in West Africa, noted Jim Gockowski, the researcher from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) who supervised the USAID-sponsored work.
The survey is one of the first tasks of a public-private partnership, the Sustainable Tree Crops Program, which seeks to raise the income and quality of life in cocoa-producing communities. The new data will provide information for policy discussions and shape projects.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and national research collaborators in Cameroon, Côte dIvoire, Ghana and Nigeria conducted a set of surveys with the support of USAID and USDOL, the global chocolate industry, ILOs International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), and West African governments. The researchers interviewed more than 4,800 farmers, child and adult workers and community leaders for the surveys. Côte dIvoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana produce two thirds of the worlds cocoa, with Côte dIvoire alone accounting for 40 percent of the worlds cocoa supply.
A summary of findings on the surveys is available at http://www.iita.org, http://www.usaid.gov, and http://www.dol.gov/ilab now, along with a synthesis of the findings.