Reference ID: 08ACCRA154    

Created: 2008-01-29 12:48    

Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED   

Origin: Embassy Accra




DE RUEHAR #0154/01 0291248


P 291248Z JAN 08













E.O. 12958: N/A




¶1. SUMMARY - During a January 9 - 11 visit to Ghana, CODEL Engel

pressed Ghanaian officials, NGOs and industry for further efforts

against the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector in

accordance with the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol.  The GOG outlined

steps it has taken to survey child labor practices in Ghana's

cocoa-growing regions, and efforts to implement the GOG's national

plan of action to eliminate the worst forms of child labor (WFCL).

The CODEL also visited a cocoa village in Ghana's Western Region,

viewing International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) projects to combat

child labor, and a program to help farmers improve their farming

practices.  The delegation also met with local NGOs that serve as

implementing partners for ICI. END SUMMARY.


Ghana Officials Outline Efforts to Combat Child Labor

--------------------------------------------- --------


¶2. On January 10, CODEL Engel, comprising Representative Eliot Engel

(NY), Senator Thomas Harkin (IA) and Senator Bernard Sanders (VT),

accompanied by Ambassador Bridgewater, met with Minister of

Manpower, Youth and Employment (MMYE) Honorable Nana Akomea,

Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Kwadwo Baah Wiredu,

Minister of National Security Francis Poku, Minister of Lands,

Forestry and Mines Esther Obeng-Dapaah, Minister of Local

Government, Rural Development and Environment Adjei-Darko, Minister

of State for Education Elizabeth Ohene, Deputy Minister of MMYE

Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa

Board (COCOBOD) Charles Ntim, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr.

Brimpong-Yeboah, Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD Tony Fofie and

other GoG officials to discuss efforts to eliminate of the worst

forms of child labor (WFCL) from the cocoa sector and to assess

Ghana's efforts towards this goal.


Opening Remarks



¶3. After introductions, Representative Engel reviewed the

Harkin-Engel Protocol and efforts to develop industry-wide

standards, and to have a certification system that will report and

monitor the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector.  He

noted that as the world's leading consumer of cocoa, the United

States is a logical partner to "eliminate the vestiges of child

slave labor."  The delegation said it wanted a partnership with the

GOG, emphasizing that children should have access to education and

not be forced to labor and miss school.


¶4. Regarding the Harkin-Engel Protocol, Representative Engel said

that the July 2008 deadline is to survey 50% of cocoa-growing

regions; it was not the case that 50% of production had to be

certified free of child labor by that deadline as some believe.  He

said results of completed surveys indicate that children are doing

heavy and sometimes dangerous work.


¶5. Senator Harkin said he was discouraged by the missed deadline of

July 1, 2005.  He acknowledged that the civil war in Ivory Coast had

hindered progress there and that compliance is a long-term process.


¶6. Senator Sanders echoed his colleagues' remarks, and noted the

substantial profits that companies such as Mars, Hershey, Kraft,

ADM, and Cargill enjoyed while children toil and miss school.  He

called for a collaborative effort on behalf of the GoG, the USG and

industry to eliminate WFCL.


Ghana Outlines Measures Against Child Labor



¶7. Minister of National Security Poku replied that efforts to

eliminate WFCL fit with the mission of national security.  He said

there were "officers all around the country monitoring abuses of

international conventions," and that he was pleased WFCL issues were

being addressed by GOG ministries in coordination with NGOs.  He

said there had been a radical change in attitude in Ghana towards

education, emphasizing that many students are now interested in

pursuing masters degrees and other forms of higher education. (NOTE:

 Poku was fired from his ministerial position on January 12. END



¶8. Deputy Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment Akosua Frema

Osei-Opare, who leads the GoG's effort to combat child labor,

asserted that much of Ghana's child labor problem was a result of

communal farming practice in the country.  She stressed that Ghana

cares for its children and there was no ill intent in having

children performing hazardous work.  She said that the government

had put panels in place to focus on the needs of children, and in

many communities, school teachers, priests, queen mothers and other

community pillars have joined together to look after the welfare and

interests of children.


¶9. In her presentation, Deputy Minister Frema described steps the

GOG has taken, including establishing a legislative framework, a

national policy framework, and specific programs designed for


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"effective child development."  However, Frema said that the GOG was

challenged by its limited national resources.  In concluding, Frema

emphasized the GOG's displeasure with the Tulane University

oversight study, which she described as "policing" its work.


¶10. Rita Owusu-Amankwah, National Program Manager for the National

Programme for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in

Cocoa (NPECLC), further detailed GoG efforts to eliminate WFCL in

cocoa by 2011. Owusu-Amankwah explained that the GOG had crafted a

multi-sectoral approach to solve the problem and designating "a

high-level official from the GOG to direct and serve as government's

point person."  She outlined progress made towards documenting and

remediating the WFCL. With the cooperative effort from partners like

the World Cocoa Foundation, UNICEF, the Danish Embassy and the

International Cocoa Initiative, the GOG has developed occupational

safety and health measures to reduce the WFCL.


¶11. Following the GOG presentations, Representative Engel and

Senator Harkin stressed that transparency and verification were

essential, and that data collected for measuring WFCL should be

available to all parties.


Survey of Cocoa Farms for WFCL



¶12. The COCOBOD representative said their report would be finished

in April 2008, that data had been entered, and that analysis and

report writing would begin soon.  The six districts covered in the

pilot survey would be covered in the second survey, which is to

include a total of 15 districts. The area surveyed, he noted,

represents sixty percent of Ghana's output of cocoa.  In response to

Senator Harkin's question when 100% completion would be achieved,

the COCOBOD representative replied that this may be completed in the

next year.


¶13. COCOBOD also noted that limited funding has impeded its ability

to meet deadlines.  Senator Harkin replied that industry was

contributing "almost nothing" to the elimination of WFCL and that he

would work with his Congressional colleagues to push for more

funding from industry.  He observed that ADM had contributed

US$150,000, and the total from the industry was "about US$2

million."  The CODEL members asked the GOG to outline what resources

would be necessary to meet their obligations.


¶14. Concerning the percent of farms covered by the survey, Senator

Harkin clarified that he was not referring to 100 percent of farms

being surveyed, but rather 100 percent of growing areas.  He noted

that some areas may have more problems than others.


¶15. Deputy Minister Frema explained that the area covered was

"mainly" guided by the Protocol.  There are six growing areas in

Ghana, and they had all been covered.  The 60 percent figure they

gave before was referring to cocoa output by the government in 15

districts.  They had covered 100 percent of the six cocoa growing






¶16. Representative Engel asked if it was as difficult for students

to gain access to schools in Ghana as in the Ivory Coast,

particularly due to the schools' distance.  The Minister of State

for Education explained that the problem in Ghana was not as serious

because cocoa production in Ghana takes place mainly on small farms,

whereas in Ivory Coast cocoa tends to be grown on plantations.  In

Ghana, she continued, the problem was more acute in pastoral areas

where children tend cows and sheep.  She explained that it was

difficult to get "these children to school at 7:30 am, so "shepherd

boy schools" have been created.  She observed that a bigger

challenge for Ghana relates to fishing communities because

authorities have not found a way to develop suitable schools those



¶17. In response to Representative Engel's question regarding the

percentage of children in school, the Ministry of State responded

that current law requires children to begin school by age six, but

that the age will soon be lowered to apply to four year olds.  For

Primary One level students, enrollment is 91 percent nationally, but

it varies by region from 71 to 100 percent enrollment.  The head of

research at COCOBOD said cocoa growing areas had a higher enrollment

than other areas.


¶18. Representative Engel concluded by emphasizing he would push

industry for more assistance.  He stated he felt that the meeting

helped make progress.  Ambassador Bridgewater thanked all in

attendance and said the U.S. Mission stood ready to ensure the

success of the Congressional delegation's efforts.


Visit to Cocoa Village in Western Region



ACCRA 00000154  003 OF 003




¶19. Following the meeting with GOG officials, the CODEL traveled to

the village of Sekyere Krobo in the Western Region, where the

International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) carries out projects addressing

child labor in cocoa farming.  ICI coordinates these projects with

Kumasi-based NGO Participatory Development Associates (PDA), and

various local NGOs including Support for Community Mobilization

Project/Programme (SCMPP) and Help Advance Communities Opportunity

Goals (HACOG).  Representatives of the cocoa industry and local NGOs

were present throughout this portion of the trip.


¶20. At a cocoa farm outside of Sekyere Krobo, local farmers

explained and demonstrated the stages of cocoa farming and

processing.   At the ICI-sponsored "farmer field school,"

participants shared their experiences and knowledge on new practices

that have made their farms more productive and reduced the need for

child labor.


¶21. Following the farm visit, over 200 inhabitants of Sekyere Krobo

welcomed the CODEL in their village center.  Senator Harkin, Senator

Sanders, and Representative Engel each addressed community members,

explaining the purpose of their visit and their interest in helping

combat child labor in cocoa.  Community children put on drama

sketches designed to sensitize people against child labor.

Villagers spoke about the impact of ICI projects and the experiences

of women and children in combating child labor.  Community elders

and the CODEL exchanged gifts, and the CODEL donating soccer balls

for local children.  Senator Harkin explained to the village leaders

that the soccer balls from Nike that he gave them used to be made by

children.  But because of a similar effort to eradicate child labor

from the industry, children were no longer involved in the sewing of

soccer balls.  The visit to Sekyere Krobo ended with a walking tour

of ICI-funded projects, including schools and libraries that

recently have obtained electricity, permitting children to go to

school in the evenings.


¶22. The CODEL hosted a dinner in Elmina on January 10th. Attending

were local NGO representatives, district level officials,

representatives from the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment,

and Ghana Education Services.  There were frank discussions on a

range of issues.  Ghanaian guests shared their views on Ghana family

structures and their personal commitment to combating child labor.

On January 11, the CODEL concluded its visit to Elmina with a tour

of the Elmina Castle, learning about the centuries-old history of

slavery in Ghana.


¶23. CODEL Engel has cleared this message.