Researchers estimate that several hundred-thousand school-age children carry heavy loads, spray toxic pesticides and swing sharp machetes at cocoa pods throughout West Africa’s fertile hillsides.
A new initiative involving the U.S. Department of Labor and the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast seeks to end that.
Kevin Willcutts is a Deputy Director for the department’s Office of Child Labor. He says he is encouraged by growing concern among West African governments and international labor organizations.
“We’re at a point in time when we think we have a real opportunity because with the signing of this joint declaration, the parties are coming together and saying that we share a commitment to address the situation and to offer children better hope for the future through education,” he said.