In 2016, the Abease community in Ghana became one of twenty-nine cocoa-growing communities chosen to work with ICI as part of its Community Development Programme. Here ICI presents a short film highlighting Abease’s transformation. Learn more about the community’s journey below.

Empowering Abease to pursue development

Under ICI’s three-year programme, cocoa communities received assistance to guide their development and ensure children are protected. As a first step, the leaders and community members formed a Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC). It still functions to this day. This group, core to child protection in the community, is responsible for raising awareness and monitoring child labour in Abease. Its members are also in charge of identifying those in the community in need of assistance to address child labour.

ICI then supported the Abease community to develop a Community Action Plan. This laid out the community’s needs identified through focus groups with women, farmers, community leaders, children and the CCPC. This then formed the basis of the activities carried out over the following years.

“Armed with our Action Plan, we went as far as the regional minister to lobby for our development,” explains James Coffey, the President of Abease’s CCPC.

Quality education and beyond

Access to quality education can reduce the risks of child labour, as shown by ICI research, so refurbishing the community’s dilapidated educational facilities formed an important part of the community’s plan. Two six-room classroom blocks were constructed by the district assembly and GETFund, a government-run programme. The community also decided to construct a four-room accommodation for teachers posted at the school.

The community also benefitted from other forms of remediation such as educational support for children identified as either dropouts or with irregular school attendance. These children received school uniforms, footwear, books and school bags to encourage them to attend school. Older children, between fifteen to seventeen years of age,  joined apprenticeship programmes to open up opportunities of employement.

Through the CCPC’s efforts, a Community Service Group (CSG) came together and received training and equipment to assist parents on their farm. A lack of income to pay for additional labour is often at the cause of child labour. By providing labour at reduced rates, CSGs can lessen the risk of children becoming involved in hazardous work.

In an effort to raise household income, the parents of children identified in child labour formed an Income Generating Group (IGA). The group received support, through materials and access to an extension service, to cultivate rice. In 2016, the group picked up an award for the best farmer based group in the district, highlighting their success.

In addition, Abease trained a community facilitator to help men and women through literacy and numeracy classes. While community rules and regulations were put in place to guide parenting towards the protection of children. The community also made an agreement with companies who buy their cocoa to deduct a kilo from every bag of cocoa sold to help raise funds for future development.

The story of Abease is one that inspires confidence in the fight against child labour in cocoa-growing communities. “As a result of the education we received, our children are now regularly in school,” says Mary Tettey, a member of the Abease Income Generating Group. “Previously they would be on the farm, even on school days.”