Tulane-Report: Child labor on the rise in West Africa

07/31/2015 - 14:55

In the last five years the number of children working in child labor increased by about 360,000 in cocoa production in Westafrica. 2.12 millionen children were working in child labor in cocoa production. Out of this 2.03 million children were found in hazardous work in cocoa production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in 2013/2014, a Tulane University report reveals. This is an increase of 18 percent compared to 2008/2009. Roughly 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa. Make Chocolate Fair! calls on chocolate companies to intensify their activities in fighting child labor and demands higher prices for the cocoa farmer’s product.

In Côte d’Ivoire the number of children working under hazardous conditions rose by 46 percent between 2008/2009 and 2013/2014. They perform tasks that are illegal for children under the age of 17 such as clearing land, carrying heavy loads, and working long hours or with exposure to agro-chemicals. In Ghana the number of children doing hazardous work fell slightly by 6 percent to 0.88 million. The Tulane report shows that 1.5 million children still have to be removed from hazardous work by 2020 in order to meet the promise of the chocolate industry.

“Child labor is caused by poverty. If the chocolate industry takes its promise seriously to reduce child labor by 70 percent till 2020, they have to get cocoa farmers out of extreme poverty”, explains Evelyn Bahn, coordinator of the Make Chocolate Fair! campaign. “Many industry projects are focusing on an increase of productivity. This does not simply lead to a higher income for cocoa farmers as the farmers have to invest more labor in their farm. Due to the low prices farmers receive for cocoa, they can’t hire seasonal workers. Children need to fill the gap. Combined with an increase in the use of agro-chemicals, the situation of children becomes even more irresponsible.”

Cocoa production increased by more than 40 percent in Côte d’Ivoire and more than 30 percent in Ghana between the dates of Tulane University’s data collection. In both countries, the usage of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides increased immensely. The total number of children exposed to those agro-chemicals rose to almost 170,000 in Côte d’Ivoire and more than 310,000 in Ghana.

The recently published Cocoa Barometer showed that the per capita income of most cocoa farmers remains far below globally defined poverty levels. In Côte d’Ivoire a farmer should earn four times his current income in order to reach the global poverty line of 2 US$ a day.

Learn more about the report:


Call on the chocolate industry to put an end to the worst forms of child labor and to improve cocoa farmer's income. Sign the petition now!