Cocoa Life is working with its partners 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. That’s why child labor is one of our three cross-cutting themes.

child labor
The Issue
A Multifaceted Problem
childs laughing

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 takes a community-based approach to address the root causes of child labor. With our partners, we are:

  • Sensitizing all parents and children to the dangers of child labor and the long-term negative impact it can have on children’s development
  • Strengthening women’s financial independence and decision-making power, which leads to families prioritizing children’s education and well-being
  • Improving farming and environmental practices to help cocoa farmers diversify and increase their sources of income
  • Training young adults in cocoa-related activities and working with communities to increase work opportunities locally


Access to education is a key factor in preventing child labor. Keeping children in school longer and ensuring quality education are critical as well. Our support includes:

  • Training teachers on activities to help children learn and become more confident
  • Establishing child rights clubs in schools to teach children about their rights and the dangers of child labor
  • Focusing on early childhood development, including trainings for caregivers and construction of preschools

"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


Cocoa Life partners with local governments and NGOs to build community-based Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS). Communities fully own the well-being of their children. As part of the CLMRS, Cocoa Life supports them with tools, expertise and funding so they can:

  • Set up a Community Child Protection Committee of trained volunteers
  • Sensitize all community members on the dangers of child labor
  • Identify children at risk within the communities
  • Remediate identified cases of child labor with the support of our partner NGOs and the appropriate local and regional authorities

The CLMRS complements Cocoa Life's holistic approach and keeps the community at the heart of all interventions. Community Child Protection Committees are involved in every stage and receive the expertise and support necessary to address each individual case with the appropriate solution.

At the end of 2018, Cocoa Life has been active in 1,476 communities. Our goal is to reach all Cocoa Life communities.

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
*CLMRS will begin to roll out in 2019
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 CLMRS
Community Child Protection Committee with CLMRS Approach
Community Members Covered by CLMRS
Implementing Partner
save the children

wahana visi

"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 

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