Fairtrade Africa holds stakeholder meeting on social protection

Fairtrade Africa has held a stakeholder meeting on the progress made through its Youth Inclusive Community Based Monitoring and Remediation (YICBMR).

The meeting was held on Thursday 5th November, 2020 in Accra and was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social protection, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ghana Education Service and other partner non-governmental organisations.

Fairtrade recognises that in order to tackle child labour, it is important to address the socio-economic root causes that draw farmers into the practice. During the last five years, Fairtrade introduced the YICBMR approach to help promote social protection at farming household levels. This approach seeks to put children at the centre of their own development by empowering them at community and household levels to advocate for safe spaces for their integral development while identifying potential issues that prevent them from developing to their fullest potential.

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In Ghana, the YICBMR system on child labour was introduced in 2018 and is being implemented by Kukuom Farmers Union, a Fairtrade certified producer organisation based in the Ahafo region of Ghana. The union reaches about 2567 farmers spread across 29 communities. As part of preventive and remediation measures under the YICBMR approach, children, youth and participating communities have been provided with interventions such as boreholes, sports kits, recreational items, bicycles, school uniforms, exercise books and back packs. Several cases of child labour and other insecurities as identified through YICBMR system have been reported to the national protection agencies of the government of Ghana for follow-up.

Speaking at the event, Social Protection Focal Person for Fairtrade Africa in West Africa, Solomon McBanasam iterated the commitment of Fairtrade to ensure that farmers and workers within its supply chain are guided by principles that ensure sustainable cocoa production that guarantee them a decent livelihood. “At Fairtrade Africa, we believe that child labour should have no place in our supply chain. We recognise the complexity of the issue and continue to engage farmers within our operations to sensitize their members on the need to provide the needed support for children in cocoa growing areas to enroll in formal education to help them develop skills to decide for their own future”.

The YICBMR has elicited stakeholder support in promoting social protection in the area where the project is being piloted. The Social Welfare Department, Traditional Authorities, the District Directorate of Education and the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana police service have realized the effectiveness of the approach and pledged their support to enhance the fight against child labour and all other child rights abuse.

Speaking at the event, the Director of Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Dr. Rita Amankwah advised stakeholders to collaborate effectively at the community level in addressing the issue of child protection.

Emmanuel Kofi Kyenkyehene, Head teacher of Kwapong RC Junior High School and a licensed counsellor spoke on the vital role Fairtrade’s YICBMR in addressing various forms of social protection issues. He said: “As part of the remediation of victims, the provision of bicycles has helped tremendously in enhancing school attendance and learning. Hitherto, children had to commute an average of 4 kilometres to school from their satellite communities. The effect on school attendance translated into poor performance in class. With the provision of bicycles, children report to school by 7:30am. Prior to schools closing down due to the covid-19 pandemic, there is now evidence of improvement in their class performance. I advise that Fairtrade should continue with this child protection work and even scale it up to all schools in cocoa growing areas of the nation’’.

Fairtrade remains committed to its mission to empower farmers and workers to earn decent livelihoods and develop their communities for sustainable development.

“We are made to identify the places and issues that affects us. The social protection experts on the project do not assume to know our peculiar issues, rather they help us to identify and make recommendations to tackle these challenges. For once, our voices are heard in issues affecting us” said 16 year old Akosua a Junior High School student in Siana community.

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