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Cocoa Knowledge Partner for the Dutch Fund Against Child Labour

The Dutch Fund Against Child Labour (FBK) supports companies to identify and eradicate child labour in their supply chains by sharing best practices, organizing learning events, and advising and financing child labour projects.

Because of the strong interest shown by cocoa companies, FBK asked KIT Royal Tropical Institute to be its “eyes and ears” in the cocoa sector. Together, KIT and FBK organise knowledge sessions to encourage cocoa stakeholders to learn from each other, collaborate and work towards a shared understanding of the root causes of child labour. The sessions invite participants to learn from each other and think about how they can be more effective as a collective addressing child labour.

The scope of the child labour problem

It is estimated that around 152 million children worldwide are involved in hazardous work that is harmful or interferes with their schooling. Child labour can have a number of short- and long-term effects on the wellbeing of a child, as well as a negative impact on local and national economies.[1]

Despite recent efforts to identify and address child labour, companies still have a high risk of unintentionally contributing to the use of child labor[2], especially in the cocoa sector, which largely depends on small farming households. This is partly due to a lack understanding of the causes of child labour, which are diverse and specific to every case.[3] Furthermore, identifying cases of child labour can be extremely difficult, especially in chains with many small-scale farmers, such as the cocoa supply chain. A lack of collaboration and transparency among companies, suppliers, NGOs, national and regional governments also hinder child labour remediation.  



[2] The ILO defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that: is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work”:–en/index.htm


Addressing child labour through the FBK & knowledge sessions

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investing in the FBK to support Dutch companies to address child labour. FBK provides technical and financial support to Dutch companies and their NGO/in-country partners to:

KIT supports FBK to facilitate a collective agenda for the cocoa sector, based on joint action, collaboration and learning between companies, NGOs, knowledge institutes and other partners.

By organising knowledge sessions, KIT facilitates knowledge exchange on root causes, inspires companies and their partners with new research findings and best practices from across the sector, identifies opportunities for collaboration and discusses obstacles and lessons learned. After each meeting KIT develops and launches a digital publication to inform the public about new insights that arose from the knowledge sessions.

Session 1: Unconditional Cash Transfers & Village Savings and Loans Associations

KIT has organised one face-to-face and two virtual knowledge sessions.

In the first knowledge session we shared and discussed recent research on unconditional cash transfers and Village Savings and Loans Associations as key strategies to tackle child labour.

Five key take-aways emerged from the session:

  1. Closing the income gap is not a silver bullet for addressing child labour.
  2. There is evidence that targeting women with 100Weeks and VSLAs supports women as well as their families.
  3. The cocoa sector needs to get its balance right in working on both monitoring as well as preventing child labour.
  4. An integrative approach is needed beyond ‘just’ increasing the cocoa price to avoid unintended consequences.
  5. The interventions discussed were valued for being bottom-up, community-based approaches.

Please take a look at the digital digest for more information on these takeaways, to watch presentations and to access key resources.

Session 2: Learning from the cocoa, coffee & spice sectors

The second, virtual knowledge session focused on cross-sector learning between the cocoa, coffee and spice sector from a business, cooperative and community perspective. Five lessons emerged from the discussions and presentations that hold for all three sectors:

  1. Child labour due diligence should be an integral part of business operations.
  2. There is no one-fits-all solution for child labour; solutions may differ according to local circumstances, sector or particular value chain.
  3. Child labour remediation requires cooperation across the supply chain.
  4. Appropriate and context-specific vocabulary matters when talking about child labour.
  5. Context, age, and gender are important factors that determine what type of remediation children and their families need.

Read more about these takeaways and see presentations and resources in the session’s digital digest.

The recording of this session can be watched below

View on YouTube Opens in a new window

Session 3: Living income & child labour

In the third virtual knowledge session, we asked the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Beyond Beans how a living income can reduce child labour in cocoa growing communities. They put forward three main recommendations:

  1. If we want to tackle child labour we need to develop a viable business model for farmers based on a diversified and productive earning model that allows farmers to replace child labour with contracted labour, mechanisation and service provision.
  2. A single focus on increasing income does not automatically reduce child labour. In fact, whenever the value of agricultural activities increases, the risk of child labour increases as well when income is invested in increased productivity.
  3. Private sector child labour and living income interventions should align with national healthcare and social protection systems. Interventions that strengthen national systems, including social protection, inclusive financing, health care, civil registration, education and vocational training are crucial to prevent and reduce the risk of child labour in a sustainable way.

Find more information, presentations and resources in the digital digest of this final knowledge session.

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Services delivered

  • Knowledge Management

    Development and research organisations are often so focused on achieving their objectives that they find it difficult to create the time to look back, analyse and learn from what they experienced and share their results.

  • Applied research

    KIT Royal Tropical Institute addresses development challenges at local, regional and global levels through research that generates new insights and knowledge in our areas of expertise: health, sustainable economic development and gender.