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EnRoute – To Reduce the Living Income Gap and Child Labour

Poverty among cocoa farming households is still a key driver of child labour. The average cocoa farming household in West Africa earns less than one-third of the established living income needed to afford a place to live, food for the entire family, health care, and clothing and education for children, and cannot put some money aside, for when it is needed most.

Cocoa Cooperative in Côte d'Ivoire

Shocks which cause an unexpected drop in household income, including climate shocks such as drought, tend to increase child labour. In these cases, children’s work is often used as a buffer, but on the flip side, positive shocks do not necessarily lead to a decrease in child labour. In fact, whenever the value of agricultural activities increases, the risk of child labour also increases.

The Netherlands-based company Export Trading Group (ETG), a trader and processor of agricultural commodities whose portfolio includes cashew nuts, grains, sugar, coffee and cocoa, and the Beyond Beans Foundation (BBF), which works to develop and implement sustainability projects across ETG’s commodity supply chains, have launched a pilot project called EnRoute to explore the impact of intervention bundles and cash transfers on child labour.

Taking a Holistic Approach

The EnRoute innovation project aims to take a holistic approach to close the living income gap. Together with Oxfam Novib and local partners, the project is setting up various interventions and studying them to see which is most effective and can be scaled to a wider farming household population. The idea is to develop and pilot different living income strategies designed to reduce the living income gap and through this, reduce child labour.

The project is taking place in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo and will cover three crops: cocoa, coffee and cashew nuts will cover three crops: cocoa, coffee and cashew nuts. In the first phase of the project, KIT supported the project by developing a monitoring and evaluation framework and conducting a baseline study through the collection of primary data on farm’s economics and child labour (with the support of BBF). This baseline study is especially important for the coffee and cashew supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire and for all three crops in Togo, as much less is known about living income and child labour in these areas compared to the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire.

Answering Three Critical Questions

The research seeks to answer three critical questions:

  1. What are the current baseline values for Child Labour prevalence and household income in the target regions? 
  2. To what extent are the prevalence of Child Labour and Household Income (or the gap to the living income benchmark) correlated? 
  3. Which intervention packages have the potential to substantially increase household income (and reduce the living income gap), and combat Child Labour?

Two intervention packages will be developed. The first focuses on productivity, quality and diversification with the provision of services such as training on good agricultural practices, village saving and loans associations, income-generating activities and land tenure. The second intervention consist of a cash-transfers program aiming at paying farmers more money for their crops. Potentially, a combination of these two packages will also be offered. In all interventions, sensitisation on child labour will also be included. In the second phase of the project, the packages will be deployed and KIT will conduct an impact evaluation study to assess their effectiveness and learn which approach works best and why.

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Our Approach

EnRoute is funded by the Fund against Child Labour (FBK) which supports companies to identify and eradicate child labour in their supply chains by sharing best practices, organising learning events, advising, and financing projects that address child labour.

KIT is delivering the following services during the first phase of the project:

  1. Designing the living-income questionnaire and using it to gather baseline data in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo
  2. Using the questionnaire to gather data in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo
  3. Running a data analysis to explore the relationship between household income and the prevalence child labour.
  4. Producing a detailed report on the findings
  5. Making recommendations on proposed interventions for the second phase.

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