Motivated to help women in Ivorian cocoa communities to be financially independent by improving their income, ICI and Nestlé visited areas of joint intervention in mid-August. During this field mission, ICI and Nestlé gave away grinders to women’s groups and made a plea to local administrative authorities for the issuance of birth certificates to vulnerable children in cocoa communities.

Mrs. Euphrasia Aka, National Coordinator of ICI, and Mrs. Mathilde Sokoty N ‘ Godo Koua, head of the fight against child labor at Nestlé, visited three women’s groups, the sub-prefectures of Aboisso, Divo and Lakota Yamoussoukro and Tiassalé town hall, as part of a joint mission that allowed to offer grinders and make a plea for the issuance of birth certificates for children from cocoa communities in the areas of intervention of a joint project led by the two structures. Each women’s group received a grinder with a stainless steel mortar and a gasoline engine, two large pans and ten large bowls as part of the income generating activities (IGA).

With the implementation of IGA in their communities, most women’s groups had taken up the cultivation of cassava, due to its profitability and its many uses in their region. The processing of this root is so tedious that the women need equipment to be able to chop it. Therefore, ICI decided to provide support to women who regularly work in IGA-groups by equipping them with small processing machines in order to increase their incomes and enable them to take charge and to contribute to the education of their children. With the support of Nestlé, ICI was able to gear them up with high-performance grinders, able to turn to pulp any kind of tuber and even seeds.

For Michèle Benson, president of the group of women Aklaléchué (Let’s help children) of Dioligbi-Guitry (South-western Côte d’Ivoire), “this new crusher will help us embark on mass production ofplacali (cassava paste), a popular local dish. With the support of ICI, we started the cultivation of cassava last year. The production from this field is our first source of supply. We’ll also buy individual crops from the women in the village. Once the cassava is transformed into a paste, it will be sold to trading partners.”

At each stop of this joint field visit, village communities came out to give a warm and well attended welcome to the delegation, headed by their chiefs. The visitors also took the opportunity to conduct awareness raising sessions on child labour and the establishment of legal documents for all children who have no administrative document since birth.

“We appreciate the fantastic momentum started with Nestlé and ICI for the empowerment of women,” said Ms. Leonie Sopi, head of Sanhoukro women’s group called Siniyassigui (Protect our children). “This donation will help us to have more income to meet the expenses of our children. We have meetings among women with ICI and have learned a lot about how we can contribute to taking care of school children, their monitoring in school and the establishment of their birth certificates.” Since 2014, over 50 women’s groups from cocoa growing communities are supported by Nestlé and ICI.