ECOWAS, ILO join forces to fight child labour in cocoa-driven West Africa

The ECOWAS Commission and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed to work closely in addressing the challenges of child labour in West Africa.

West Africa accounts for 70% of the world’s cocoa production.

In a meeting held by officials of the two organizations in Abuja, it was agreed that ECOWAS should coordinate and harmonize national plans against child labour with a regional plan, the West African bloc said in a statement.

The meeting also discussed the Interim Report on Needs Assessment of Child Labour in West Africa presented to the Commission’s Humanitarian and Social Affairs Directorate, by Professor Amadu Sesay, a consultant from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Nigeria and an ILO official.

Presenting the report, Professor Sesay, according to the statement, identified poverty as one of the fundamental causes of child labour in the region, adding that 11 of the 15 ECOWAS Member States ranked amongst the 50 poorest countries in the world.

The consultant also mentioned cultural influence as another reason behind the prevalence of child labour in sub-Saharan Africa. He said that due to the lack of monitoring of child education or well being, many children were forced into labour or sold into slavery.

According to Professor Sesay, the limited success recorded in the region on the war against child labour, especially in its worst forms, could also be linked with the fact that some of the activities took place in cocoa plantations/farms in three major counties of the region – Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, which among them produce 70% of the world’s cocoa beans used in the chocolate and coffee industry abroad.

By Ekow Quandzie

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