Fairtrade Africa has organised a community durbar to raise awareness about tackling child labour in cocoa growing areas in Ghana. As an organisation, Fairtrade Africa believes in empowering farmers to make a change. The durbar event was held on the 31st October 2019 at the Asunafo North Municipal Assembly with the theme for this year’s Child Labour Day celebrations: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams! The event was attended by teachers and parents of children in the area, representatives of the farmer unions and other local government authorities.
Fairtrade Africa is a network of producer organisations which seeks to empower producers to fight for change, by ensuring fair pricing. In West Africa, the organisation also works to address other issues relating to the cocoa sector in the area of social protection, climate resilience and good agricultural practices. As an organisation, Fairtrade works to build capacity of farmers in identifying child social protection issues and working together with appropriate organisations to ensure appropriate monitoring and remediation. So far, Fairtrade Africa has trained more than 7 producer organisations in Ghana, representing more than 10,000 farmers, on issues relating to social protection.
Fairtrade standards also ensure that farmer organisation adhere to strict regulations relating to fundamental human rights which include ensuring the rights of children are respected. Children have basic human rights that need to be protected. One fundamental right is a right to education and to safe environments to help them develop to their fullest potential. Fairtrade works with its member organisations to create awareness about the need to send children to school. Also, Fairtrade is committed to ensuring that through these capacity building and training activities, awareness is created on the need for children to go to school.
Another way Fairtrade helps to address child protection for vulnerable groups in communities is through the Dignity for All Programme (D4A) – Cocoa Impact Project. Dignity for All (D4A) is a Finnish funded development cooperation programme which includes advocating for child protection in cocoa growing communities.. The Cocoa Impact project is being implemented in the Asunafo North Municipality in partnership with this Union, Asunafo North Cooperative Cocoa Farmers’ Union, and across all the 67 communities of the Union. Under the project, Fairtrade has so far sensitized 30 communities on Child Protection and formed 21 community child protection committees. The organisation has also trained 30 teachers on Safe School Program and to also support Child Rights Clubs and School based Child Parliaments. Remediation efforts by Fairtrade on this project have also been successfully implemented with the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development. The project has so far reached 6,200 direct beneficiaries as at the end of 2018.
Speaking at the event, the Business Development Advisor for the D4A Cocoa Impact Project in Ghana Mr. Anthony Bright Kwakugah emphasised that: “The D4A Cocoa Impact Project a.k.a ‘Enabling Rights and Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons in Ghana Cocoa Growing Communities’ recognises that the protection of children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation (child labour) and the promotion of their rights and that of vulnerable adults is everybody’s responsibility. The Project also recognises that the role of the community is vital towards ensuring that adequate protection services and structures exist for children and vulnerable adults”.
Fairtrade’s activities support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by advocating for practices that promote human development, reduce inequalities and ensures decent living for all.