Ghana. In 1999, the ILO estimated that 1 in 8 children in Ghana worked between the ages of 10 and 14. Many children work as unpaid workers on farms, including cocoa plantations. Children have also been found working in mines, quarries, and in fishing, street vending, and domestic labor.

CHILD LABOR AND ENSLAVEMENT IN GHANA’S LAKE VOLTA FISHING INDUSTRY

By Sharon L. Fawcett, CLC Intern

For a small sum of money, James Kofi Annan’s father handed him over to a child trafficker when he was just six years old. Born into a family in Ghana with 12 children, there was no money for school uniforms and books. So instead of gaining an academic education, James would learn the painful lessons of the enslaved, in Ghana’s fishing villages.

Sold by his trafficker to a Lake Volta fisherman, James worked 17 hours per day, enduring constant physical and emotional abuse. When displeased, his master often withheld food, beat him with a paddle, or threw him in the lake.

Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, was created by the construction of Ghana’s Askombo dam in the 1960s. Although the lake provided a bountiful supply of fish for many years, fish stocks have been declining in recent years, making it more difficult for fishermen to earn a living. Children provide a cheap source of labor and their tiny fingers prove useful for picking the fish that are captured in the nets’ webbing, as the holes get increasingly smaller to catch smaller fish.

Poster, Fisher of Kids

 

The children trafficked to work in Ghana’s fishing industry as bonded laborers are as young as four years of age. Their tasks may include paddling boats, hauling nets, or performing domestic labor in the homes of fishermen. Like James Kofi Annan, these children work long hours for no pay; do not attend school; and are often malnourished, sleep deprived, and treated abusively. Nets often get snagged on submerged tree branches and children forced to dive underwater to free them risk water-borne diseases and drowning.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), 60 percent of the world’s 215 million child laborers work in the agricultural sector—comprising activities in agriculture, livestock-raising, forestry, and fishing. In Ghana, one in six children aged six to 14 are involved in child labor. Eighty-eight percent of them work on farms; another 2.3 percent in fishing.

Work that is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children is categorized as hazardous by the ILO. This is the kind of work Lake Volta’s child fishers are exposed to, among the “worst forms of child labor.”

Ghana has ratified several international conventions that establish standards to protect children from exploitative work, including the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention (C138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (C182). It also has national laws restricting child labor, but the laws are not vigorously enforced. The minimum age for work in Ghana is 15 years; 18 years for hazardous work. However, the practice of children working is commonly accepted in Ghanaian society.

Read more

Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign Welcomes Hershey’s Announcement to Source 100% Certified Cocoa by 2020

[News from the Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign:]

Coalition urges Hershey and all chocolate companies to go 100% Fair Trade

The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign (www.raisethebarhershey.org) welcomed today’s announcement from the Hershey Co. (HSY) that it will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks.  Hershey appeared to join its main rival Mars in announcing its target for certification with a 2020 deadline.  Many other smaller chocolate companies are already 100 percent certified, a number of them using Fair Trade certification, the most rigorous certification for identifying and remediating the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign released the following joint statement:

“The Raise the Bar, Hershey! campaign is pleased that Hershey is announcing 100 percent certification for its cocoa by 2020. To truly address child labor, Hershey needs to make sure it is certifying all of its cocoa Fair Trade, the only certification that adequately addresses the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Hershey should certify and label one of its top-selling, brand name bars Fair Trade within the next year, and should certify and label all of its chocolates Fair Trade by 2020.  We urge Hershey to reveal how the company plans to get to 100% certification by disclosing the certifiers it will be working with as well as a timeline for converting specific product lines.

The Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, joined by over 150,000 consumers, union allies, religious groups, and over 40 food co-ops and natural grocers has been pressuring Hershey to address child labor for several years.  Just this week, Whole Foods Market (WFM) announced that it was removing Hershey’s Scharffen Berger line from its shelves until Hershey took steps to address child labor in its supply chain. The Raise the Bar, Hershey Campaign! and its allies will continue to encourage Hershey, and other chocolate companies, to improve labor practices on cocoa farms and plantations.”

Read more

Hershey Announces Plans to Reinforce Cocoa Sustainability in West Africa

FBR Staff Writer Published 31 January 2012

The Hershey Company, the US-based chocolate manufacturer, plans to invest $10m over the next five years in West Africa, in programs to lower child labor and improve farming communities, as a part of its plan to reinforce cocoa sustainability efforts.

The company plans to work with experts in agriculture, community development and government, and by 2017, Hershey’s public and private partnerships are expected to directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region.

The Hershey Company president and CEO JP Bilbrey said the company is extending its commitment with new programs to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from the company’s investments in education, health and economic opportunities.

“Our global consumers want The Hershey Company to be a leader in responsible business practices and in finding smart ways to benefit cocoa communities,” Bilbrey added.

Hershey plans to partner with Rainforest Alliance, a non-governmental organization (NGO), to train cocoa farmers to help them address global climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Later this year, the company will launch Hershey’s Bliss products with 100% cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms – the farms which have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the well-being of workers, their families and communities.

Hershey said that it is working with the Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa from certified farms in Latin America and Africa for Hershey’s premium brand Dagoba.

The company plans to increase the presence of CocoaLink mobile phone project to Ivory Coast, which has approximately 600,000 cocoa farmers, with about half are already using mobile phones.… Read the rest

ILO implements project on elimination of child labour in Birim South (Ghana)

Source: GNA [from Ghana Web]


Akyem Swedru, July 6, GNA – The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is implementing a programme dubbed: 93Cocoa Community Project” (CCP) to eliminate the worst forms of Child Labour in Cocoa growing communities across the country.

The project is titled: 93Towards Child Labour Free Cocoa Growing Communities in Cote D’lvoire and Ghana through an integrated area base approach.”

Mrs Stella Ofori, Principal Labour Officer, Child Labour Unit of the Labour Department of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, speaking at the end of a two-day district level consultative workshop for cocoa growing communities at Akyem Swedru in the Birim South of the Eastern Region, said the project was to identify communities for interventions and control groups for impact evaluation.

The event brought together 45 participants from various heads of departments, cocoa farmers, District Assembly and unit committee members and cooperative institutions.

She said it was to establish an inventory of available social interventions and other complementary services to which interventions might be linked.

In addition, it was to document the status of child labour interventions in the district plan, budgets, monitor and evaluate frameworks and other mechanism for sustainability.

Mrs Ofori said the CCP would contribute to the National Plan of Action (NPA) through the awareness raising and development of action plan for implementation by the communities and to institutional and technical capacity building to fill the gap of NPA implementation.

“The CPP would also support child labour monitoring systems to track the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour through integrated approach,” she added.… Read the rest