Human Rights in our Supply Chain

25/11/22

Systemic poverty is present in many farming communities around the world, and cocoa is no exception. It is well recognized that rural poverty is a root cause for numerous human rights offences, namely child and forced labour. ECOM works through various channels to create economic emancipation to combat internationally recognized human rights breaches at farm and community levels. Just as a variety of factors contribute to poverty in the first instance, it takes a number of initiatives to help eradicate it and bring prosperity to farming communities across the world. We are working to establish a living income analysis and implement programs to bridge the gap through collaboration across supply chain stakeholders and industry.

 

At ECOM, our package of measures to engage with and improve life for farmers and their families includes: developing resilience through tailored training on new technologies, farm renovation and rehabilitation; promoting income diversification by providing intensive training in a variety of fields, from vegetable production to soap making; providing digital support in the form of accessible, app-based platforms; making farm equipment affordable with low-cost machinery, flexible payment choices and post-purchase training; setting up banking systems such as the Digital Premiums Platform and promoting savings through Village Savings and Loan Associations; and offering youth training schemes that allow young people aged 18 to 25 to develop valuable skills and earn an income.

 

The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) definition of child labour states that, “Child labour is work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and/or interferes with their schooling”.

It is important to understand that many children help their parents around the farm and home in ways that cannot be classified as child labour. Those tasked with identifying child labour are looking for instances where children are involved in risky or dangerous work such as carrying heavy loads or working with chemicals. They are also looking for activities that are keeping children away from their schooling.

 

Child and forced labour are complex challenges that require multi-stakeholder collaboration, and ECOM recognizes our important role in the supply chain. We invest with partners to address human rights issues prevalent within our industries and we work with industry leading experts, including Verite and International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), to leverage their knowledge to assess and manage our supply chain to reduce the risk of forced labour and child labour. This collaboration facilitates capacity building and the development of tools and assessments for improved processes to address human rights practices in our supply chain.  

 

ECOM implements a digitised Child labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) that includes a hybrid approach that covers farmers in the supply chains and surrounding communities. A series of pilots across different landscapes with our Clients informed ECOM’s current CLMRS implementation model.

In areas that have been identified as high risk we expect CLMRS to include;

  1. 1) Awareness raising and education to farming communities on what child labour is and the risk associated to it,
  2. 2) Household level monitoring of farmers,
  3. 3) Root cause identification at  a household level and, 
  4. 4) Remediation and follow up.

Simultaneously, community-level risk assessments and community interventions play a crucial role outside the household. These interventions include activities such as refurbishing schools, income diversification programs and digging boreholes.

 

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