Last year, the Eliminating Child Labor in Cocoa-Growing Communities in Côte d’Ivoire (ECLIC) reached its conclusion. The project saw several key results: a substantial decrease in hazardous child labour among supported children; increased awareness of child labour and the importance of school; increased community empowerment, and improved access to quality education. Beginning in 2015, the four-year project set out to contribute to the elimination of hazardous child labour in 50 communities in Côte d’Ivoire. The project aimed to support 5,450 girls and boys engaged in or at risk of becoming involved in child labour. A variety of prevention and remediation activities meant this target was surpassed, with 9,509 children reached by the project’s end.

Lowering child labour in supported households

At the end of the four-year period, the number of ECLIC-assisted households with at least one child in child labour had halved. This means many households abandoned child labour altogether. Similarly, the proportion of assisted households with at least one child engaged in hazardous work fell from 52% to 33% – a decrease of 37%. Training and equipping community groups Community Child Protection Committees were formed in all 50 target communities. These groups play an essential role in empowering communities to tackle child labour. They also play a key role in ensuring that the needs and views of community members are fed into an overall Community Action Plan. The ECLIC project supported committee members through training and provided materials to support them to carry out their responsibilities.

Providing access to quality education

ECLIC achieved positive results in improving children’s access to quality education. 29 communities were supported through the construction or renovation of schools and other facilities, such as canteens. According to research carried out by ICI, access to quality education can be an important factor in reducing children’s risk of becoming engaged in child labour. More than 8,000 children were helped to access education, through support with school fees, school materials, or through participation in accelerated education or vocational training programmes. Adults were also offered literacy classes, as studies show that when parents are literate child labour rates tend to be lower. In total 493 women and 133 men attended functional literacy classes. Bridging classes, which are a type of accelerated education programme used to get children back into formal schooling, were also organised. These classes offer children who are outside of the education system a chance to catch up on their schoolwork and reach the required level to continue their studies. 19 such classes took place within the target communities, with a total if 584 children enrolled. Of them, 85%, or 496, successfully completed the programme and entered the formal school system.

Increasing incomes

1,488 members of households whose children were at risk of becoming involved in child labour received support through income-generating activities. Women’s groups in particular were empowered through training and supported with materials to set up small businesses or micro-enterprises, designed to add to their income and, in turn, support children’s education. ECLIC assisted 1,026 women and 518 youth in this way.

“We are pleased to have seen real impact on the ground after this four-year project. Among the households assisted, many more children were in school, while the proportion of children in hazardous child labour fell. We trained the Community Child Protection Committees to allow them to continue their work after the project’s end: raising awareness, identifying and assisting children at risk within the communities,” said Sonja Molinari, Programme Manager at ICI. “This project has shown that with the right support, community members can be active agents of change. When communities identify, prioritise and address their own development needs, this can lead to positive outcomes for children and the wider community. The holistic approach of the project not only reduced hazardous child labour in households receiving direct support but appears to have contributed to some positive changes in the wider community too. The results of the forthcoming endline survey will tell us more about how the situation in the 50 supported communities has changed since the project began.”

“The ECLIC project implemented good practices to reduce child labour. This included community mobilisation and specific actions based on inputs from the communities,” said Mei Zegers, Senior International Development Consultant who developed ECLIC’s external evaluation. “The project met or exceeded most of its targets. Though the project reached out and worked with local Government authorities and service providers, the functioning of such entities in remote cocoa producing areas is often limited. In accordance with the role of national and local authorities, improved governance is needed for replication and long-term sustainability of achieved project results. This should include availability and quality of social, health, education, poverty reduction, environmental protection, and other services at local level. Availability of good road and other infrastucture are other key enabling environment requirements.”

Access the ECLIC external evaluation report here.

The ECLIC project was supported by the United States Department of Labor.