We believe the work of children is education and play. No amount of child labor in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable.

Respecting and promoting human rights is a key principle of our framework as part of our work to ensure our cocoa communities are empowered and inclusive. Central to this work are our efforts to address the risk of child labor and help protect the rights of children in the global cocoa supply chain.

Cocoa Life, with its partners, works to tackle child labor at its root causes with a holistic, community-centric approach. For instance, we are improving farmer livelihoods and empowering women―all of which help communities thrive, so that children can focus on education.

child labor
The Issue
A Multifaceted Problem
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Child labor does not happen in isolation. It is a consequence of several socioeconomic challenges that push children into work.1

  • Low incomes: Many farmers can’t afford to hire external help on the farm, so they often rely on their children for help, especially during the harvest season
  • Lack of infrastructure: Little to no access to education is linked to more child work; when children are at school, they are not working on the farms
  • Limited awareness: Having worked on their own families’ farms when growing up, parents often don’t know that child labor puts their children’s development at risk

In the Key Origins

Extensive research, including studies commissioned by Mondelēz International, confirms a high risk of child labor in the cocoa sectors of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana—the world's two largest cocoa-producing countries.

An assessment conducted in Indonesia indicates a much lower risk. This difference is linked to Indonesia's significant strides in addressing structural poverty and improving the socioeconomic condition of rural populations, including cocoa farmers. Of particular importance is that children in Indonesian cocoa farming communities have access to quality education. Families have made their children's education a top priority.

Our Strategy

Cocoa Life’s approach to help address the risk of child labor in the global cocoa supply chain focuses on prevention, monitoring and remediation, with a heavy emphasis on addressing the systemic root causes of child labor. You can download our child labor strategy here.


Cocoa Life’s holistic approach addresses the root causes of child labor around poverty and lack of rural development. Through our Community Action Plans, we develop interventions that contribute to preventing child labor:

  • Improve income from cocoa farming as well as additional sources
  • Empower communities to advocate for their own development
  • Empower women at household and community level
  • Improve access to quality education

Prosperous cocoa farms mean farmers are less likely to rely on their children to support in their work. Empowered women and communities, who understand their development needs, will push for their children to remain in school. And children, who have access to quality education, will have a chance at the bright future they deserve.

Strengthening child protection systems

In addition to preventative interventions, we are rolling out targeted interventions to build and strengthen local child protection systems, in partnership with local authorities. While the interventions may differ across origins, our approach to strengthening child protection systems is aligned with Cocoa Life’s mission to lead the transformation of the cocoa sector and follows the below principles:

  • Community-based: we believe that thriving cocoa growing communities – where communities are empowered to be accountable for the well-being of their children – are the foundation of a sustainable cocoa supply chain.

  • System-strengthening and sustainable: where the communities and families have access to basic services and infrastructure, and children have access to quality education, community authorities and government institutions are more capable in fulfilling their duty to protect children’s rights and keeping children safe from harm.

  • Rights-based and child-centric: to ensure the best interests of the child are considered, as enshrined under the UN Child Rights Convention, which involves approaching child protection in its broader sense, beyond the narrow issue of child labor in cocoa, to include all child rights issues within the community.

Monitoring and remediation

We are working with local authorities and partners to roll-out community-based Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS). When we say ‘community-based’, we mean that like Cocoa Life, the CLMRS is centered on communities and their empowerment. To ensure the CLMRS are sustainable and able to run independently of Cocoa Life in the long-term, we focus on building the capacity of the communities themselves, as well as that of public authorities to support them and fulfil their duty to protect human rights. That means, as part of our CLMRS, we:

  • Set up and train Community Child Protection Committees to become the focal point within the community and primary liaison to school and district authorities
  • Identify vulnerable children, particularly those who are out of school, who are either at risk or in a situation of child labor, through household and children interviews
  • Engage vulnerable children’s parents and support children through collective and/or individual remediation
  • Share all data with the authorities and refer identified cases for remediation whenever needed
  • Use government-developed tools to support national policies and avoid the development of parallel systems
  • Take a broader lens to consider child rights beyond child labor and cover all children in the community, whether their parents grow cocoa or not
  • Based on learning from CLMRS and wider Cocoa Life program, advocate with government for measures to obtain universal access to quality education for children in cocoa growing communities and beyond


In order to drive long-lasting positive change for children in cocoa-growing regions, all actors along the chocolate supply chain need to play their part and join forces in addressing the systemic issues underlying child labor. This is why, as founding members, we support the work of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), aiming to address the root causes of child labor and drive efforts to strengthen public-private partnership with governments, development partners and civil society organizations.

In the European Union, the world’s largest consuming market for West African cocoa, we have joined forces with peer and supplier companies as well as NGOs to amplify our voice. Together, we are calling on the EU to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of companies in global cocoa supply chains, and implement a smart policy mix to support the necessary environments in producing countries for the respect of human rights, including those of children. (Read our joint position here.)

"The only way to effectively tackle child labor is to address its multiple root causes, which requires gathering many skill sets. That’s why the Cocoa Life commitment to partnerships is particularly important. As the program scales up, Cocoa Life will have a transformative effect on the communities where it’s implemented and will have an important impact on a lot of the child labor risk."

Nick Weatherill, Executive Director, International Cocoa Initiative


Alongside the Ivorian government and industry peers and suppliers, Cocoa Life is investing 3 million Swiss francs (~3 million USD) in early childhood development and access to quality education in Côte d’Ivoire through two initiatives (ELAN & CLEF) led by the Jacobs Foundation. Running over five years (2020-25), the two initiatives will be funded by a pooled funding facility with a total target capitalization of 150 million Swiss francs (~150 million USD). Building on the success of this public-private initiative, we are encouraging the Jacobs Foundation to expand this initiative to Ghana. Read more on our progress blog.


We are working with local authorities and partners towards having a CLMRS in place across all Cocoa Life communities in West Africa by 2025. By the end of 2020, 447 communities in Ghana were already covered by a community-based CLMRS.

Cocoa Life Communities
Communities with CLMRS
Community Child Protection Committee with CLMRS Approach
Community Members Covered by CLMRS
Implementing Partner
child rights international
Côte d'Ivoire
Cocoa Life Communities
Communities with CLMRS
Community Child Protection Committee with CLMRS Approach
Community Members Covered by CLMRS
Implementing Partner
Cocoa Life Communities
Communities with local equivalent of CLMRS
Community Child Protection Committee with CLMRS Approach
Community Members Covered by local equivalent of CLMRS
Implementing Partner
save the children

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"A community development response, with child well-being at its heart, builds on and strengthens existing support systems and infrastructure, such as education, social protection and health, so that communities are empowered to adequately care for their children. This approach, which recognizes that every child needs a safe environment to grow and thrive, is the sustainable way forward."

Aarti Kapoor, Managing Director, Embode


Helping women find and use their voice in the community through Gender Dialogue Platforms is another tool in addressing child labor. Facilitated by our partner, ABANTU for Development , these platforms work with women in Ghana on advocating for themselves and their children on basic needs like healthcare and education.

Child development is a key priority of the platforms. They proactively work with Ghanaian education authorities and community leaders to ensure children are in school and have quality education. They also focus on leadership training, personal development, public speaking and gender equality issues.


Farmer unions in Ghana are facilitated by Cocoa Life and established by our partners, the Ghana Cocoa Board and Olam. The unions include groups of farmers from different communities. They come together to not only negotiate as one with suppliers, but also to help address child labor. Ghanaian farmer unions have used their Cocoa Life premiums to construct schools in 200 communities to date.


Cocoa Life has partnered with the Jacobs Foundation to help improve the quality of education in cocoa communities across Côte d’Ivoire. In these communities, there have been high dropout and illiteracy rates, as well as limited access to community resources and health and sanitation services. Our program consists of a two-phased approach that is focused on creating a holistic environment for early learning and providing resources for all community members. It has been implemented in 77 communities and we are working together to expand.

  1. To learn more about the definition of child work and child labor, read on our progress blog