CARE International Ghana makes notable strides in tackling cocoa-related exploitation

CARE International Ghana has recorded tremendous strides in tackling forced and child labour, including all forms of exploitative work among girls, women, and other vulnerable populations in the cocoa-growing Western North, Central, and Ahafo regions. Within five years, the percentage of child labour among child participants dropped from 68.4 per cent to 42 per cent, and hazardous child labour fell from 67.2 per cent to 19 per cent. These positive changes were recorded after the organisation successfully implemented a five-year (2018-2023) Adwumpa project in 80 communities in the regions, supporting 500 vulnerable girls aged 15-17 and 2,500 vulnerable women. It was implemented in collaboration with Youth Opportunity and Transformation in Africa, Child Rights International, and Olam Food Ingredients, with funding from the United States Department of Labour, Bureau of International Affairs. The initiative aimed to minimise the risk of child and forced labour, as well as other exploitative labour practices, by improving the economic participation and empowerment of women and girls in Ghana's cocoa supply chain. In a speech read on his behalf during the close-out session in Accra, Mr. Bright Wireko-Brobbey, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, expressed satisfaction with the remarkable accomplishments of the Adwumpa project. 'It seems that the project exceeded almost all its targets, which is very impressive,' he said, adding, 'I hope that the valuable vocational skills, income-generating activities, and spirit of savings, among others, provided for the project participants will go a long way towards improving lives in the project communities.' He highlighted the importance of establishing operational structures and systems to maintain the long-term success and impact of the project, citing previous instances where it was challenging to track the positive outcomes in project communities. He urged the implementing partners to maintain strong cooperation with government structures at the Metropol itan, Municipal, and District Assemblies. Notable headways were made in advancing child and labour rights, promoting economic empowerment for women and girls, strengthening community and district systems, transforming gender and social norms, and fostering public-private partnerships. Amidst a long list of milestones, a total of 2,716 girls received training in life skills, while 1,201 girls aged 15-17 were enrolled in vocational skills training programmes. Also, 41 right-based educational clubs were established, drawing 1,509 members. Similarly, 421 children were able to return to school, while 27,565 community members were reached with information on labour rights and protections. Besides that, 3,780 vulnerable women and girls received support to start their businesses. Ms. Rose Tchwenko, Country Director of Care International Ghana, praised project partners, government agencies, local authorities, and participants, for their firm collaboration and partnership, saying that without their dedication and c ommitment, this achievement would not have been possible. She noted that the national close-out event was not the conclusion of the Adwumpa project but rather a time to take a break and contemplate the positive impacts and lessons learned from its achievements. 'This close-out is not an end; we are pausing to observe, reflect, and learn, but more importantly, to celebrate the incredible work that has been achieved,' she said. She added, 'When you look at the data bringing hazardous labour to as low as 19 per cent from over 60 per cent from the start of the project five years ago, something we are extremely proud of,' she told journalists on the sidelines of the close-out ceremony. Various notable organisations, both local and international, including Cocobod, the Complementary Education Agency, and the ILO, shared complimentary messages of solidarity. While stakeholders and project participants, mostly girls and women, from Tano South (Ahafo region), Asunafo North (Ahafo region), Bibiani-Ahniaso-Bekwai ( Western North), and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa (Central region) municipalities provided testimonies highlighting a litany of achievements of the adwumpa project. Source: Ghana News Agency