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Cablegate: Cote D'ivoire Rolls Out Preliminary Cocoa-Child

VZCZCXRO8128
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #1084/01 2971434
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241434Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3668
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABIDJAN 001084

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USTR, C. HAMILTON
DOL FOR T RASA, D GARMS
USAID FOR C. GARRETT, S. SWIFT
EMBASSY ACCRA FOR S. DRIANO
TREASURY FOR D. PETERS
COMMERCE FOR M. RIVERO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR PREL PGOV EAID ELAB EIND IV
SUBJECT: COTE D'IVOIRE ROLLS OUT PRELIMINARY COCOA-CHILD
LABOR DIAGNOSTIC AND PLAN OF ACTION AS EFFECTIVE
HARKIN-ENGLE DEADLINE APPROACHES

REF: ABIDJAN 998

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Prime Minister's interministerial
taskforce rolled out preliminary results of its
industry-funded survey of child labor in the cocoa sector on
Oct. 12. It found that 22 percent of children in the region
are involved in cocoa production, and a majority of them are
involved in one of the worst forms of child labor, carrying
heavy loads. The rest of the report shows a picture of
largely family-related enterprises, as the great majority of
children involved in farm labor are members of the family of
the farm owners. The Ministry of Labor has produced a
companion plan to reduce the prevalence of child labor, which
should be presented formally in the coming weeks. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On October 12, the Prime Minister's
Interministerial Taskforce on Child Labor (which effectively
focuses on the single issue of child labor in the cocoa
sector) headed by the redoubtable Madame A. Acquah, presented
the first draft of its preliminary findings concerning the
prevalence of child labor in Ivorian cocoa production
centers. Concentrating on the areas of Agnibilekrou,
Tiassale and Soubre (the heartland of Central Cote d'Ivoire
cocoa production), the diagnostic found that 22 percent of
children in the studied region are involved in cocoa farming.
Of those, the vast majority are subject to one form of the
"worst forms of child labor" as defined by the ILO: carrying
heavy loads. 84 percent of children who work in the cocoa
industry affirm engagement in this activity.

3. (SBU/NF) The report was produced by a group of local
academic consultants and funded by a consortium of the
international chocolate industry. Industry has been
reluctant to share the extent of its involvement in
supporting Madame Acquah's efforts, and has repeatedly
declined to tell Emboffs how much financial backing has been
provided for the study and follow-on sensitization campaigns.
However, given the interest level shown by top-level
corporate and industry association representatives to this
question, it is clear that industry takes the issue seriously
and is determined to achieve success in the 'end game' in the
months leading up to the Harkin-Engle Protocol's deadline of
July 1, 2008.

4. (SBU) The Prime Minister's report presents a fairly
predictable tableau of child labor in the cocoa sector.
Three percent of children involved in the cocoa sector
perform tree and branch-cutting and 18 percent are involved
in brush burning, although higher numbers are exposed to such
practices performed by others. Five percent of children
working in cocoa production apply pesticides/fungicides
themselves, although 47 percent are present when others do.
Intriguingly, girls are slightly more likely to be employed
by their families to work in cocoa production, and the
percentage of girls working in the cocoa field who have never
been schooled is 49 percent, versus 29 percent among boys.
Even among children involved in cocoa production, the vast
majority are family members of the farm owner: 93 percent are
farm owners' own children, their nieces and nephews or
grandchildren, and only 7.1 percent are unrelated. Among the
subset of children involved in dangerous work (and only 2.3
percent of such children are unrelated to farm owners) all
report attending at least some school and eat on average
three meals a day. The report notes that these last points
tends to undercut the notion that children are being
pitilessly exploited.

5. (SBU) The Taskforce presented its report to a broad
group of academics, NGO leaders involved in cocoa/child labor
and government officials. At the meeting, attended by
Emboff, others subjected the report to a rigorous critique,
focusing on its structure (which is awkward, putting less
relevant information up front and making it difficult to
determine key conclusions of interest to most readers), some
technical details related to the regression analysis, and
some valid Ministry of Agriculture criticism about the
definitions of heavy loads and whether children are forced to
work. Overall, however, it appeared that the basic tenets of
the report were sound. Once the report incorporates the
points made by conference participants and is translated into

ABIDJAN 00001084 002 OF 002


English, it will be disseminated to foreign audiences while
the diagnostic will be simultaneously expanded to 50 of the
country's cocoa growing regions.

6. (SBU) Meanwhile, on October 16 the Ministry of Labor
released its separate report on Cote d'Ivoire's plan to
combat the worst forms of child labor (reftel) which it will
formally present in the coming weeks. The plan identifies a
series of steps that need to be accomplished, including
strengthening the capacity of judges and law enforcement,
putting in place a system of surveillance (effectively the
Prime Minister's Taskforce), "reinforcing preventative
action" (i.e., continuing to encourage foreign NGOs and
organizations such as Germany's GTZ to conduct sensitization
campaigns against child labor) and developing a plan to
remove children from the worst forms of child labor. The
latter element appears to lean heavily towards developing
structures to either repatriating children if trafficked
across national boundaries, or returning them to their
families from abusive situations.

7. (SBU/NF) Comment. The Harkin-Engle Protocol has clearly
and effectively motivated the government of Cote d'Ivoire and
the international chocolate industry to move forward to put
into place the elements of an overall system capable of
addressing the question of the worst forms of child labor in
cocoa production. The diagnostic element appears further
along than the plan to combat the problem. However, Post
understand from experts in the field from U.S. and other
international NGOs (Winrock, STCP, IFESH, GTZ and others)
that, thanks to their sustained efforts, gradually their
message concerning the problems associated with inappropriate
child labor in the fields is sinking in among farmers. If
progress can be made in substantially reducing the use of
children to carry heavy loads, much of the incidence of the
worst forms of child labor would be eliminated. Tulane
University's preliminary study on the effectiveness of public
and private efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child
labor should be presented to Congress October 31 (reftel),
and GoCI officials are clearly attempting to show progress.
It appears that Cote d'Ivoire is far more capable of meeting
its child labor targets and the demands of the Harkin-Engle
Protocol than it did in October of 2006. End Comment.
AKUETTEH

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