A report released by an industry-backed foundation on Wednesday has confirmed that child labour in Ivory Coast’s cocoa farming sector has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The percentage of children involved in production between mid-March and mid-May increased to 19.4% from 16% in the same period in recent years, a survey of over 1,400 households conducted by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) found.
Whilst the report stated that it was still too early to completely attribute the increase to the country’s lockdown, child labour has a tendency to rise when children cannot go to school and when the economy worsens.
Apart from this, the inability of adult workers to travel around the country due to the lockdowns might have been another reason for the rise.
The ICI report stated that “These findings underline the vulnerability of cocoa-growing households in West Africa and show how quickly progress in addressing child labour can potentially be reversed.”
This report was the first in-detail view of the pandemic’s influence on child labour in the cocoa sector of the country that manages to produce the largest amount of cocoa in the world.
Coronavirus-related restrictions were introduced by the Ivorian government on March 16, with these restrictions including the closing of schools.
The Ivorian government has eased some of these measures in recent weeks.
Ivory Coast had 5,148 active cases of coronavirus as of June 30, as the total amount of active cases continued to rise.
Studies have found that more than 1 million children currently work on cocoa farms in the country.
A draft of a US government-sponsored report found that Ivory Coast’s use of child labour in the cocoa farming sector managed to increase during the past decade, yet this report has not been published as of yet, with the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments still disputing the methodology that was adopted in conducting research.