Child-centred community development identifies a community’s needs and works with community members to identify, prevent and address child labour. These approaches are effective in reducing the prevalence of child labour by nearly 20% over three years.

A community development approach brings communities together and helps them to play an active role in implementing child-centred development with the ultimate aim of protecting children and reducing child labour. Depending on the community, this could include improving the school environment and other essential services, helping farmers to develop other income sources and supporting women’s empowerment. This approach can be run on its own or blended with Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS).

How it works in practice

As a first step a community’s needs and priorities are assessed in discussion with community members, including farmers, their families, children, village leaders, and others. These are then drawn up in Community Action Plans. In some cases, Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) are established. These consist of community members who are trained to raise awareness of and identify child labour and drive forward the development plan. Children can also be formed into groups to ensure their voice is heard. The next step is implementing the plan alongside local and district authorities and civil society partners to put in place what the community has identified as necessary to support child protection.

Implementing what works for the whole community

Each community has different needs to tackle child labour. Support to prevent and address child labour provided as part of this approach places a focus on community level activities, although there are many similarities to the support provided as part of a CLMRS. Additional individual and household support takes place if further needs are identified. Activities usually centre around three primary areas:

  • Quality education: Ensuring children in cocoa growing communities can access and attend school is often at the heart of this approach. Constructing or renovating school infrastructure, such as classrooms, toilets, or canteens, can help to increase both enrolment and attendance. Strengthening or setting up school management committees is also key as they can play a vital role in the drive towards quality education. Bridging classes can be set up to enable out-of-school children or those who have fallen behind in their classes to catch up with their peers and enter the regular school system. CCPCs may also identify children with individual needs. In these cases, school kits, uniforms, and birth certificates can be provided to enable children to attend and stay in school. 
  • Support for farmer livelihoods:  Our community development approach involves working with community members to diversify their household income. When communities are faced with poverty and rely upon cocoa for their income, children can be at higher risk of child labour. We also recognise that farmers need to earn a living income if child labour is to be eliminated. Supporting community members to develop alternative means of income can reduce the vulnerability of individual farming families to income shocks that can, in some cases, increase the risk for children. Through this approach, we help farming families set up alternative income-generating activities, including other agricultural crops or small businesses. Many of these activities, such as artisanal crafts, or rice farming, are carried out in groups, increasing community cohesion and allowing several households to pool their resources. They can also link up with other forms of interventions such as Village Savings and Loans Associations.
  • Women’s empowerment: Many of the activities implemented as part of a community development approach can benefit women. Adult literacy classes, the set-up of small business or income-generating activities, and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) can all play a role in addressing power imbalances between men and women in the community, empowering women and enabling them to take on more decision making roles within their households and the community as a whole. This can often result in better child protection.

If you are a cocoa trading, processing or manufacturing company and would like to know more about implementing a community development approach in communities linked to your supply chain, please get in touch.