The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has launched a new study analysing data from various stakeholders’ Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), with the aim of guiding improvements in their effectiveness at identifying, preventing and addressing child labour.

The report analyses data from over 200,000 children covered by 12 CLMRS in the West African cocoa sector. Examining differences in system design, set-up, operation and management, it asks two questions:

  1. How effective are different types of system at identifying cases of child labour?
  2. How effective are they at keeping children out of child labour and improving their access to school?

Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems are a means of targeting prevention, mitigation and remediation assistance to children involved in or at-risk of child labour, as well as to their families and communities. They raise awareness about child labour and the resulting harm and identify cases through active, regular and repeated monitoring. When a case of child labour is identified, targeted support can be provided in response to the specific needs of the child, family and community. Children continue to be monitored on a regular basis until they have stopped engaging in child labour and have satisfactory alternatives.

CLMRS are currently estimated to cover 450,000 cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and the use of these systems to tackle child labour in cocoa-growing communities is increasing. Earlier this year, ICI and its members pledged to scale up such systems to cover 540,000 cocoa-farming households by the end of 2021 as part of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, corresponding to 30% of the supply-chain in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. This pledge is one step towards a much larger ICI ambition to help ensure that 100% of the cocoa supply chain in those countries is covered by 2025. It is therefore imperative to ensure these systems are as efficient and effective as possible, so they can be more easily scaled up.

The findings in this report Effectiveness Review of Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems in the West African Cocoa Sector (pdf) are relevant to anyone implementing, setting up or expanding a CLMRS in the cocoa sector, or beyond, and the recommendations provide concrete ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of systems to prevent and address child labour. 

What have we learned about improving the design and set up of systems to identify child labour?

Identifying cases of child labour is not always easy. Child labour is a sensitive topic, children may not be present when a monitor visits, families may not always provide complete information, and the training, experience and motivation of monitors can vary considerably. However, it is important to identify as many of the cases as possible, so that support can be provided to all who need it. Findings show that:

  • Child labour in cocoa occurs throughout the year, but according to CLMRS data, children are at greater risk at specific times of the year, following the agricultural calendar. Scheduling and adapting awareness-raising campaigns and monitoring visits to match the seasonal patterns of certain hazardous tasks, could improve the relevance of messaging and increase the likelihood of identifying children at-risk.
  • Using a combination of household monitoring visits and farm visits increases the likelihood that children in child labour are identified and receive support.
  • When recruiting locally based monitors, efforts should be made to recruit and retain more female monitors and those with higher levels of education, as this appears to help with the identification of children in child labour. Experienced monitors should be incentivised to stay in the job for longer.

How effective are systems at keeping children out of child labour?

Once a child is identified, providing support does not automatically mean that a child stops working. Different children require different types of support depending on the causes, and our results show that some children are more difficult to keep out of child labour than others. Many children go in and out of child labour over time, underlining the importance of continuing to monitor them and respond to their changing needs.

Child labour monitoring and remediation systems provide a range of support to children, families and communities. ICI analysed data from follow-up visits to children who were identified in child labour and received support in Côte d’Ivoire to understand how effective these systems are at keeping children out of child labour and improving access to school:

  • Overall, results show that remediation activities provided by systems are effective at protecting children from hazardous work. Over half of children (54%) reported not doing hazardous tasks at one of their follow-up visits.
  • Multiple follow-up visits should be conducted to ensure that a child has stopped hazardous work after having received support, since many children subsequently resume some form of child labour. Around 29% of children reported not doing hazardous work for two consecutive follow-up visits. ICI recommends following up on children’s progress until they have reported not engaging in hazardous child labour for at least two consecutive follow-up visits, with a minimum three-month interval between the visits. Once a child is no longer engaging in hazardous tasks their situation should continue to be monitored as part of the CLMRS to make sure it remains stable.
  • Boys, older children, those out-of-school, and those not living with a biological parent are at a greater risk of participating in child labour and are harder to keep out of child labour. Additional efforts should be made to support these children.

Comparing the effectiveness of different types of remediation support is challenging as children are allocated remediation depending on their differing situations and needs. However, descriptive results suggest that:

  • Interventions to improve access to and quality of education (such as the provision of school kits, renovation of educational infrastructure, and bridging classes for out-of-school children) are particularly promising strategies to address child labour.
  • School kits and school uniforms are effective ways to help out-of-school children back into education. Birth certificates, school improvements, bridging classes, tutoring and awareness-raising are slightly more effective for girls than for boys, while school improvements are more effective for younger children.

“At ICI, scaling up Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems is a core part of our long-term strategy to tackle child labour and protect children. This report is important as it provides valuable insights on good practices that can help improve the performance and efficiency of these systems, allowing them to be more rapidly scaled up to support more children,” said Nick Weatherill, ICI’s Executive Director. “This study would not have been possible without the contributions of all those practitioners who shared their insights and experiences to advance our collective learning on what works best in identifying, preventing and addressing child labour.”

Download the Report (pdf)

Read the online report