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 eliminate child labor and protect the rights of children.

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.

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’s approach to eliminating child labor is three-pronged: it focuses on prevention, monitoring and remediation, with a heavy emphasis on addressing the root causes of child labor.


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 to:

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

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.

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. To ensure the CLMRS are sustainable and able to run independently of Cocoa Life in the long-term, they also 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 Child Protection Committees to become the focal point within the community and primary liaison to school and district authorities
  • Use government-developed tools to support national policies and avoid the creation of parallel systems
  • Share all data with the authorities and refer identified cases for remediation whenever needed
  • Take a broader lens and consider child rights beyond child labor, for instance setting up child reading clubs to empower children to advocate for their own rights

Ending child labor across the West African cocoa sector is more than Mondelēz International can do alone, so we collaborate with all actors of the cocoa supply chain. Through our involvement with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), we support a systemic approach to address the root causes of child labor and call from strong public-private partnerships with governments, development partners and civil society organizations.

"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


We are working with local authorities and partners towards having a CLMRS in place in all 1,629 Cocoa Life communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. By the end of 2019, 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 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