About the Project

"Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana" was a four and a half year project spearheaded by the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University and financed by the U.S. Department of Labor. As part of the Tulane-USDOL contract, Tulane studied progress made towards the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) and Forced Adult Labor (FAL) in the cocoa sector of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana and towards meeting obligations under the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a voluntary agreement against the WFCL and FAL signed in September 2001 by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), and witnessed by the congressional offices of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

The Harkin-Engel Protocol, signed on September 19, 2001, marked the commitment of the international cocoa and chocolate industry to address the problem of child labor and forced labor on plantations and small scale family farms in West Africa. The Protocol calls for the establishment of a child-labor free cocoa certification system, a child labor monitoring system, an independent verification system and support for programs to improve conditions in the cocoa-growing regions. Industry did not fully meet the July 1, 2005 Protocol deadline but committed itself to the establishment of a certification system covering 50 percent of the cocoa growing areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by July 1, 2008.

Tulane University's Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer oversaw and assessed the certification, monitoring, and verification systems. The Oversight Project approach included:

  • Careful attention to the United Nations, ILO framework and methods for the monitoring and assessment of child labor.
  • A full consideration of research, monitoring and approaches to “certification” and “verification” adopted in each country.
  • Collaboration and consultation with all stakeholders including the cocoa/chocolate industry, the host governments, NGOs, universities, and international and local experts on cocoa production, human rights and child labor.
  • A combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • A participatory and adaptive research strategy. This includes working with local partners in the development and field-testing of research instruments.


Specific Project Tasks (First Contract, October 2006-December 2009)

Task 1: Assess Progress Made Toward a Child Labor-Free Cocoa Certification System 
This involves the monitoring and assessment of actions to organize and implement a system that measures and reports on the incidence of Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) and Forced Adult Labor (FAL). The first step is to identify and examine the written evidence and supportive documentation. This will be followed by interviews with staff involved in the development and management of the certification process. Qualitative and survey research will be conducted to obtain evidence on the validity of claims and opinions about the actual impact of the certification process on policies and programs to address problems and improve conditions.

Task 2: Assess Status of Child Labor Monitoring and Verification System
This is a study and assessment of the existing child labor monitoring and verification systems. It addresses the information system components for monitoring and verification, critical reviews of reports, a field assessment of projects, and a description of information flow, data management and reporting. It includes field work, essentially interviews with stakeholders, with farmers, government officials, NGO representatives and others.

Task 3: Develop methodology and assess efforts to eliminate Worst Forms of Child Labor
Following a literature review and an initial field visit, the Tulane team will produce the required survey instruments and design the methodology. The major challenge is the formulation and field testing of survey questions. The Oversight Team will give careful attention to an examination of existing indicators and the broad range of issues identified in the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Task 4: Conduct annual, nationally representative surveys of child labor in cocoa growing areas
The survey design and methodology will be developed after a careful review of the ILO-IPEC statistical tools and other resources developed by the Statistical Information & Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC). These tools, Tulane's research experience and the findings generated from Tasks 1-3 will be used design the national survey. 

The population-based surveys, conducted in each year of the contract, will cover topics related to child labor and forced labor in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. They will include basic demographic, social educational indicators. The surveys will be carried out in households, workplaces and schools. Each group will be sampled using a separate sampling frame and equal-probability sampling techniques. Interviews will be conducted will adults as well as children.

Task 5: Study exploitive child labor in the cocoa supply chain
After a review of the literature, the Tulane team will establish a preliminary classification system for all stages in the supply chain. This will be followed by qualitative studies that trace the flow of cocoa from production through transport to depots, consolidation of stocks, marketing, processing and shipping of cocoa and related products. At each stage the behavior and attitudes towards child labor will be examined. Research methods include observations of children at work, and interviews with children and their employers. Particular attention will be given to working conditions, hours, tasks performed and how children are treated.

Task 6: Study impact on school enrollment/retention and vocational training programs
SIMPOC has produced survey guidelines and models for school-based surveys. These will be consulted and adapted to conditions in both countries. Particular attention will be given to the issues of enrollment, retention, and withdrawals of children from labor activities. Interviews will be held with teachers, parents, and students on reasons for withholding and withdrawing students from labor on cocoa farms.

Data will be collected on the removal of the children from exploitative labor, their enrollment in school, the incidence of child labor among children in school, hours of work and educational performance. This information will be used to implement a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact of educational opportunities, including formal and non-formal schooling and vocational training, on children withdraw or prevented from exploitative labor.

Task 7: Assess efforts to offer rehabilitation services to children withdrawn from exploitive labor
The research will focus on the efforts of the cocoa/chocolate industry and the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to rehabilitate children withdrawn from exploitative labor. This includes onsite investigation of projects, as well as interviews with parents, children, government officials, project staff and other stakeholders. Particular attention will be given to the examination of factors that led to the children's withdrawal from exploitative labor, and the effectiveness of programs to keep them in school. After an initial period of qualitative research, an instrument will be designed and a quantitative survey will be conducted.

Task 8: Prepare annual reports and end-of-contract final report
Tulane will provide annual reports on activities and research results. They will include a report on each of the Ten Tasks and other issues identified during the Oversight activities.

Task 9: Organize consultative meeting in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Washington
Annual meetings with stakeholders will be held in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and the USA. The Tulane team will share results and provide other information to the governments and other organizations involved in efforts to eliminate exploitative child labor. Consultative meetings will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss the progress of interventions to implement the Harkin-Engel Protocol, and the research and monitoring activities of the Oversight Team.

Task 10: Train government officials in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire
A training curriculum for government officials will be developed after an assessment of their roles in relation to the monitoring and verification systems. The curriculum will be framed by the Harkin-Engel Protocol and the findings of the research, monitoring and assessment activities. The content and methods of training will be adapted to the requirements of target groups within government, and build their capacity to monitor efforts to eliminate exploitative child labor and reduce the harmful effects of children’s participation in cocoa production.


 Specific Project Tasks (Second Contract, October 2009-March 2011)

Task 1: Assess progress made by the cocoa industry and the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana towards implementation of an industry-wide, transparent child labor-free cocoa certification system

Task 2: Assess progress made by the cocoa industry and the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana towards establishing and implementing a child labor monitoring system (CLMS)

Task 3: Assess progress made toward establishing a credible system for verifying progress made in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to implement the Harkin-Engel Protocol
Includes efforts to certify child labor-free cocoa, eliminate exploitive child labor and FAL in the cocoa sector of these two countries, and to provide mitigation, rehabilitation, and education services to children and adults withdrawn from exploitive child labor or forced labor in the cocoa sector

Task 4: Assess public and private efforts to remediate WFCL in the cocoa supply chain

Task 5: Assess efforts to remediate FAL in the cocoa supply chain

Task 6: Update Knowledge Database

Task 7: Update Database of Exploitive Labor Interventions

Task 8: Execute and organize conference on data collection in the cocoa sector

Task 9: Prepare and submit to USDOL one annual report and an end-of-contract final report

Task 10: Organize and execute consultative meetings

Task 11: Capacity building of government officials


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