A recent report from the NORC research center at the University of Chicago shows that cocoa-producing countries in West Africa are still struggling with reducing child labor. Countries in North America and Europe are the biggest buyers of cocoa produced in Africa and especially around Christmas, many consumers are in the market for chocolate products. On the upside, the report found that school attendance among children could be improved in agricultural regions of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, the two countries the report looked at.
According to the findings, an estimated 2.8 million children from agricultural households in cocoa-producing regions of the two countries mentioned were doing some work in 2018 and 2019 – 2.3 million seemed to be involved in labor more regularly.
When it comes to child-inappropriate work, 1.6 million children were affected in cocoa production only. Most of them were also involved in child-inappropriate hazardous work, which in cocoa production involves using sharp tools, carrying heavy load and handling chemicals. The findings show that a consistently high share of 60 percent of children from agricultural households in the survey areas had been engaged in illicit child labor practices in the last 12 months before the survey. In a comparable survey in 2008 and 2009, that number had been 58 percent.
At the same time, school attendance for children from agricultural households in the study region improved for 5 to 14-year-olds around 20 percent to 80 percent in Cote D’Ivoire and around 10 percent to 90 percent in Ghana. Attendance for 15-17 years old remained lower at 66 percent in Cote D’Ivoire and 87 percent in Ghana.