According to a report by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)*, child labor in Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa sector increased during the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between March 17 and May 15, 2020, the ICI visited 1,443 cocoa-producing households in 263 communities as part of its child labor monitoring and remediation system. The results show that child labor grew from 16% to 19.4% compared to the same period in previous years.
The ICI indicates that it is still too early to attribute this increase entirely to the lockdown, but provides 2 possible reasons: the schools were closed, and there was less workforce available due to restrictions on movement both within the country and at the borders, which “might have left families no other choice than to ask their children to plug the gaps caused by a lack of workers.”
This report follows on from another report commissioned by the United States Department of Labor that already found that child labor in the cocoa sector had increased in the whole country over the last ten years. Contested for its methodology by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the report will however be reviewed by a group of independent experts.