The International Cocoa Initiative’s four-year Community Development Programme sought to empower 75 cocoa-growing communities to tackle child labour. Analysis by ICI shows that the programme decreased the prevalence of hazardous child labour and its severity compared to a control group, and increased children’s access to education.

In 2015, with the support of its board members, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), launched its Community Development Programme in 75 cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The programme sought to empower community members to put in place child-centred development projects with the objective of tackling child labour. Complementing a previous external evaluation by the Bureau of Integrated Rural Development, this analysis by ICI shows that the programme effectively reduced the prevalence of hazardous child labour and its severity in both countries.

Reducing children’s exposure to hazardous work

In Côte d’Ivoire, the programme was successful in reducing the prevalence and the severity of child labour. Hazardous child labour prevalence fell from an estimated 62% in control communities to 51% in assisted communities, corresponding to a 17% reduction. In Ghana, estimates also point to a reduction in child labour prevalence, but this was not statistically significant.

The analysis also shows that when children continued to engage in child labour, the programme reduced the severity of their exposure to hazardous work. In Côte d’Ivoire, the average number of hazardous tasks carried out and the number of hours and days per week worked fell, in comparison to control communities. In Ghana, there was a reduction in the number of hours and days worked. These findings highlight the importance of accounting for impacts beyond participation in child labour when measuring a programme’s success.

Improving access to quality education

Community members identified poor quality educational infrastructure as a persistent challenge and used the programme to improve access to quality education. ICI supported communities to improve or renovate school buildings, organised bridging classes to enable out-of-school children to catch up on missed lessons, provided school kits and facilitated access to birth certificates (learn more about these activities here).

These interventions led to an increase in school enrolment in assisted communities in Côte d’Ivoire from an estimated 69% to 84%, corresponding to a 22% increase. In Ghana, where school enrolment was at nearly 100% in both assisted and control communities at the project’s outset, there was no significant change.

Wide-reaching benefits at community level

Community members were a central part of the design and implementation of the child-focussed Community Development Programme. Child protection committees worked with women, men and children in each community to collectively identify their needs and priorities. As a result, the activities differed between communities, but commonly included improvements to schools and other key infrastructure, awareness-raising on child rights, adult literacy classes, and support for small businesses. The external evaluation report shows how these activities resulted in many positive changes in assisted communities, compared to a control group.

Importantly, the activities of the Community Development Programme were intended for all children in a community, regardless of whether they were engaged in child labour, or whether their family farmed cocoa. “This impact study shows that a non-targeted approach, implemented over several years, can result in significant decreases to both hazardous child labour prevalence and its severity for a whole community, not just for the children and households who participate directly in programme activities” explained Megan Passey, Head of Knowledge and Learning at ICI.

ICI’s impact study draws on data from 950 households in 65 communities, 41 in Côte d’Ivoire and 24 in Ghana. The relatively small sample size, especially in Ghana, may explain why we were not able to see statistically significant impacts on all indicators. However, the size of the reduction in hazardous child labour prevalence in Côte d’Ivoire is comparable to that found in a larger-scale study by the NORC at the University of Chicago. Commissioned by the World Cocoa Foundation, NORC’s Assessment of Effectiveness of Cocoa Industry Interventions also found that a range of interventions – including community development approaches like this one, and Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems – implemented over at least three years, significantly reduced the community prevalence of hazardous child labour.

Read the full analysis.

Read the summary.