The Ghana Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU) is promoting integrated approaches towards child labour free zones, where farmers are organised into unions and co-operatives to provide alternative livelihood for poverty reduction.
So far, GAWU have sensitized over 3000 cocoa farmers on the concept and provided them with equipment such as beehives, oil palm extractors, bread ovens and soap (Alata Samina) making equipment for improved livelihood scheme.
Mr Andrew Addoquaye Tagoe, Head of Progamme at GAWU, who disclosed this at an exchange meeting with key partners engaged in elimination of child labour interventions from Ghana and Cote d?Ivoire at Abengourou, said they had been registering farmers as members of the union and organizing them into co-operatives.
The key partners, who are from Ghana and Abidjan were on cross border field visits to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and best practices of the International Programme for Elimination of Child Labour- Cocoa Community Project (IPEC-CCP) in cocoa growing areas in the two countries.
The visit was sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to provide impetus for sharing good practices and lessons learnt among ECOWAS member states, cross-fertilization of experiences and ideas to combat the worst form of child labour at the community level in cocoa growing areas.
The visit also aimed to provide an opportunity for reflection on the efficiency, effectiveness, relevance and sustainability of project interventions.
Mr Tagoe stated that GAWU was currently working in 40 communities in four districts of Ghana where they trained the farmers on dissent work including safety on the farm, dangers of agro-chemicals and basic trade unionism.
He announced that GAWU and ILO had developed Occupational and Safety Usage Manual which they would be sharing with partners in Cote d?Ivoire.
?We are also working with the unions in Cote d?Ivoire towards the establishment of West Africa Cocoa Farmers Unions that would promote the welfare of cocoa farmers and cocoa farming communities,? he added.
Mrs Stella Dzator, National Coordinator, IPEC-CCP, stressed the need for partners to focus on the end results of the project, thus achieving total elimination of worst forms of child labour in cocoa growing areas.
She said the project was being implemented in seven districts, targeting about 1200 children and a 1000 families and they had already exceeded that target in Ghana.
?Over 2000 children were rescued from the farm and send to school while over 1000 families were provided with additional livelihood activities to generate some income to sustain the programme,? she explained.
The programme had four Non-Governmental-Organizations and 11 implementing agencies providing direct services to the children.
Mr Augustus Asare, Project Coordinator, Child Aid and Youth Development Network, one of the implementing agencies in the Birim South District, said to ensure community ownership and support for the Community Action Programmes (CAP), they signed memorandum of commitment with the communities in which they operate.
He said the agreement allowed each community to develop its own rules and regulations to guide them to promote good practices.
The CAP, he said, enabled the communities own the project and ensured that children were in school and not in the farms.
Mr Asare stated that they were working with both NGOs and government institutions, especially the district assemblies to extend some of their social intervention services to the project communities.
He said if communities were empowered with CAP they would not only developed but would assist them to achieve total elimination of worst forms of child labour in cocoa growing areas.
The last global report indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa still had the highest incidence of child labour in the World.