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10 May 2020

Stacey Knott, Voice of America (USA)

Cash Transfer Program Aims to Combat Child Labor in Ghana

Experts warn there could be an increase in child labor in cocoa-growing African nations as incomes and enforcement suffer due to the coronavirus pandemic...Ghana and Ivory Coast produce about 60 percent of the world's cocoa, but both have long-standing issues with child labor in cocoa farms...Fairtrade Africa...received reports of possible child labor use in Ivory Coast...

Prince Gyamfi, Ghana's deputy country director for The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)...says poverty is a major driver for child labor in cocoa farms. If the pandemic continues, he said, there will be increased economic pressures on farming families, and ongoing school closures in Ghana mean children are more likely to accompany their parents to their farms and be exposed to hazardous activities...ICI found that when farmers' incomes are negativity impacted, child labor tends to increase... 

Estimates for 2013-'14 indicate that 1.2 million child laborers were working in cocoa production in Ivory Coast, and 900,000 in Ghana.

The ICI is researching the impact of cash transfer programs on child labor — where giving money to vulnerable families could be a solution..."We think that cash transfer programs, if designed well, could lead to a decrease in child labor by helping parents pay for school costs or education costs, allowing children to go to school, reducing pressure on the household incomes, therefore, reducing the need for child labor to help out on the family farm," Gyamfi said...

Daniel Sarpong, dean of the School of Agriculture at the University of Ghana, said Ghana is taking issues of child labor in cocoa farms seriously. He pointed to work done to mechanize the sector, where farmers were encouraged and assisted to use modern farming practices...Sarpong agreed that cash transfers could help combat child labor in Ghana.

So far, Ghana has seen more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19, and Ivory Coast more than 1,500.