Human trafficking

Combating child labour while protecting livelihoods
International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)
Food and beverage
Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana
No. of employees:


Established in 2002, ICI is a partnership between NGOs, trade unions, cocoa processors and companies “to oversee and sustain efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products”. Corporate members include Archer Daniels Midland, Barry Callebaut, Cadbury Schweppes, Cargill, Ferrero, Hershey Foods, International Confectionery Association, Kraft Foods, Mars, Nestlé and Toms.

Further information:

Dilemma: Combating trafficking without demonising the sector and damaging livelihoods

According to ICI, 70% of the world's cocoa is grown on small family farms in West Africa. Cocoa cultivation and primary processing is highly reliant on manual labour, often in remote and difficult conditions, and involves hazardous tasks. There have been cases of child trafficking and adult forced labour found in the West African cocoa sector - often in the context of well established and complicated social and/or cultural arrangements. When children are taken from their families, even with their or their parents' consent, and sent away from their homes (sometimes to another region or country) for the purpose of exploitation, this is recognised by ILO Convention 182 as “trafficking” and is illegal. Given the important role played by Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana in the commodity supply chains of the world's major chocolate brands, this presents such companies with a significant dilemma.

Good practice: Integrated programmes to combat trafficking and promote thriving cocoa growing communities

Targeting the cocoa supply chain, ICI:

  • Works at the national level to support appropriate and effective policies
  • Supports capacity building for local partners and relevant institutions
  • Implements community based projects to change attitudes and practices
  • Supports social protection for victims of exploitation
  • Shares lessons learned to promote effective, wider engagement

The ICI process sensitises cocoa-growing communities about abusive labour practices such as trafficking, child labour and forced labour, and helps them plan for themselves how best to ensure that these practices are ended. The programme also draws in others to invest in the community and improve farming, infrastructure and other needs.

ICI's training programmes have covered key personnel from the Ghana Cocoa Board, local buyers, the Ivorian Ministry of Agriculture, cooperatives, security personnel, NGOs, the Ghanaian Department of Social Welfare and the media. ICI also uses radio campaigns in local languages to reach populations that are often remote and have low literacy rates.

Results: Early signs of long term systemic change in cocoa-growing areas

Between 2004 and July 2009 ICI (through its local implementing partners) had active programmes in 247 communities, reaching a population of 615,000. A total of 5,358 community meetings have taken place under these programmes and 217,215 community members have been sensitised. ICI has also helped implement 233 Community Action Plans (CAPs), trained 1,516 key people in public, civil society and private sectors through 65 events and helped contribute funding and technical input for national action plans in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. Further actions include support for radio programmes reaching an estimated audience of 16 million, and direct sponsorship of 40 micro projects, mainly related to education. These have contributed to a number of achievements, including:

  • Implementation of 394 local initiatives by communities to reduce the vulnerability of their children
  • Local authority support for CAPs with 193 initiatives
  • New or rehabilitated school blocks are available in 110 communities, benefiting an estimated 135,000 pupils
  • The posting of 144 new, qualified teachers in 61 communities
  • Interception of 203 trafficked children by trained police units in Côte d'Ivoire in 2008