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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Africa and Middle East
 

CODEL ENGEL'S VISIT TO GHANA

     
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Reference ID: 08ACCRA154    
Created: 2008-01-29 12:48    
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED   
Origin: Embassy Accra
                   

VZCZCXRO3882
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAR #0154/01 0291248
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291248Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ACCRA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6069
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ACCRA 000154
 
SIPDIS
 
SIPDIS
 
DEPT FOR AF/W AND H
 
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM OVIP PGOV PREL ELAB GH
SUBJECT: CODEL ENGEL'S VISIT TO GHANA
 
¶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
NOTE)
 
¶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
 
ACCRA 00000154  002 OF 003
 
 
"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
areas.
 
Education
---------
 
¶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
communities.
 
¶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.
 
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