A total of 12, 700 children from 36 cocoa growing communities will benefit from a project to ensure an equitable and integrated child protection system.
Dubbed Children in Rural Communities Are Learning and Empowered (CIRCLE) Project, it will involve the participation of two producer organizations, Asunafo North Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative Union in Goaso and Asetenapa Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative in Suhum.
The Project launched in Accra by Fairtrade, International Cocoa Initiative and Tony’s Open Chain, sought to ensure that children in the target cocoa growing communities progressively benefit from an equitable and integrated child protection system.
The CIRCLE project is being implemented by Fairtrade Africa and International Cocoa Initiative in collaboration with Fairtrade Finland and Fairtrade Max Havelaar Netherlands and the producer organizations; funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Tony’s Open Chain.
Mr Edward Akapire, Head of Region, West Africa Network for Fairtrade Africa, speaking at the launch, said the project’s focus would be on four key areas.
They are the establishment of a harmonised child protection system to monitor and remediate instances of hazardous child labour, support cooperatives to implement child labour monitoring system, support the development of a safe school environment to promote enrolment, retention, and completion, build the resilience of children to protect, report and advocate.
He said Ghana was the second largest producer of Cocoa beans in the world and Cocoa was an export cornerstone of the economy, providing income for about six million people in Ghana. Moreover, a significant number of children work in the cocoa sector, performing hazardous tasks and experiencing abuse.
He said awareness of children’s rights, development and enforcement of the rights and structures for protection were occasionally limited, which eventually contributed to the challenges.
He said the CIRCLE project would influence duty bearers in the cocoa growing communities to take up their roles of providing services and safety for children in their schools and communities.
“This is to create an environment where children can play, learn, and grow while feeling safe, empowered, and secure at school and in the community,” he added.
He said Fairtrade Africa was committed to partnering the government and other like-minded organizations to work closely together to ensure improved access to quality education for children, and income generating activities that address household poverty in cocoa growing communities in Ghana.
Mr Anthony B. Kwakugah, Senior Project Officer, Fairtrade Africa, said the overall goal of the project was to ensure that children in the target cocoa growing communities progressively benefit from an equitable and integrated child protection system.
He said the project sought to contribute to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
He said it was also to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including the requirement and abuse of child soldiers as well as to end all forms of child labour. The Senior Project Officer said it would end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms Of violence and torture of Children.
The project is part of Fairtrade Finland’s four-year (2022-2025) Dignified Opportunities Nurtured through Trade and Sustainability (DONUTS) programme.
The project comprised 12 projects in Africa in the value chains of cocoa (CDI and Ghana), coffee (Ethiopia and Kenya), flower (Ethiopia and Kenya), wine (South Africa), vanilla (Madagascar) and sugar (Malawi).
The programme is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and several private sector companies.