Our Progress in tackling child labor
Download the 2019 Tackling Child Labor Report here
Our future is tied to the value we create for society. That is why we launched the Nestlé Cocoa Plan in 2009: to make cocoa farming more sustainable, improve the lives of farmers and enhance the quality of our products. We have invested CHF 224 million over the last 10 years to help make this a reality.
A key part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan is addressing the issue of child labor. Child labor is unacceptable. Children should be protected and they deserve the chance to fulfill their potential. This is why we were the first company in the industry to introduce a comprehensive Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in 2012.
Since 2017 the reach of the CLMRS has almost doubled –covering 78,580 children today. We are not proud to have found just over 18,000 children doing hazardous work, but thanks to our system, we have been able to make a difference in their lives.
While we have made progress, we will not stop here. This report describes how we are learning and adapting our approach with our partners. It also outlines our commitments to continue to raise awareness and expand the CLMRS to other communities.
Our goal is to source all cocoa for our confectionery products from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025. In parallel, we will continue to expand the reach of the CLMRS across our supply chain in West Africa.
EVP, Head of Operations
SVP, Global Head Confectionery & Ice Cream strategic Business Unit
Increasing our scale and impact
Now present in over 1,750 communities in Côte d’Ivoire, our CLMRS database encompasses over 24,000 more farmers than in 2017 and almost double the number of children. Encouragingly, analysis of the data indicates that the system seems to be working as effectively at scale as it did during its development phase.
Our latest data set, extracted at 1 September 2019, allows us to analyze the status of 14,511 children who have had one follow up visit, and 8,549 children who have had two follow up visits by a CLP. This analysis is based on the revised Ivorian list of hazardous tasks that are prohibited for children in cocoa cultivation, which includes the use of sharp tools.
Our 2017 report showed that the Nestlé CLMRS had helped 51% of children to stop doing hazardous work (an estimated 3,571 of the 7,002 children identified). This was based on a representative sample of children who were interviewed once as part of an internal evaluation.
As of 2019, not only has the system expanded, but we can use the full data set to calculate impact. This year’s data demonstrated that on the same basis 55% of children, i.e. 7,981 of 14,511 identified in child labor, were no longer doing hazardous work at their most recent follow-up visit.
In 2018, legislation introduced by the government of Côte d’Ivoire expanded the list of activities that are considered hazardous for children. Specifically, they added the use of sharp tools such as the machete and ‘daba’ or hoe. It will take time for this information to filter down to farmers and for habits to change. Based on the new legislation, the rate of children who have stopped hazardous work drops slightly to 49% with one visit as there are children who use sharp tools on a day-to-day basis for a variety of activities. Now that we have followed up a substantial number of children over time, we see that one visit is not enough to know if a child has stopped doing hazardous work long term. The reality (as illustrated by two of the case studies in this report) is that some children will relapse and start doing hazardous work again. However, we learned that children who have not done hazardous work after a second follow-up visit rarely go back to doing hazardous work again. Using this higher benchmark, 29% of children are no longer doing hazardous work (see graph opposite). This is encouraging as we are fighting an uphill battle – children are increasingly likely to do hazardous work as they get older. It sounds obvious, but children get older with every visit.
How the system works
Community-driven, holistic and embedded into the heart of our supply chain, the Nestlé Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System is an effective way to approach the problem of child labor. This was the first program of its kind in the cocoa sector.
Access to quality education
With our partners we help children enter or reintegrate into schools, so that they can fulfill their potential. Read about out approach here.
A bridge to mainstream education
Maternal literacy and child labor
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan and tackling child labor
Tackling child labor requires a holistic, community-based approach. See how we are helping mothers, families and cocoa farmers increase their incomes.
Although good progress has been made, there are many challenges on the road to eliminating child labor. We explain some of these issues and how we approach them.
Give children a voice to help stop child labor
Collaboration is key to successful remediation. This year we have invited two leading voices in academic research to help understand child labor better.
By 2025, we aim to source 100% of our cocoa for our confectionery products through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. A fundamental part of the Cocoa Plan in areas with a high risk of child labor is to implement the CLMRS. We will therefore implement the CLMRS across all of our sourcing in West Africa. This represents a major commitment to ensuring our chocolate is sustainable.
The Nestlé CLMRS is successful in tackling child labor in just over half of cases. That is great but it is not good enough.
We have shown in this report how each child’s situation is different and that some cases are very hard to solve. Dr Kristy Leissle reminds us that we should see child labor holistically. To eliminate child labor we need far-reaching changes in society, industry and policy, and we can’t do this on our own. Rural villages in West Africa need better water supply to reduce infant mortality and to reduce the need to carry heavy loads. They need electricity to improve the quality of life, and available labor to ease pressure on older farmers. They need more schools so that children have an alternative to working in the fields, and those schools need to offer quality education.
We will continue to be driven by results, by these simple criteria: are we finding the children who are doing hazardous work? Are we helping them? And are we preventing future cases? Are we providing better opportunities to children in the communities we source cocoa from?
We will continue to measure our remediation activities against success in child labor reduction, while acknowledging this is not the only success factor. We also need to know: are people’s attitudes changing? Are the communities more able and willing to address these issues? Are local people shocked when they see a child carrying out a hazardous activity?
We will continue to improve the system’s efficiency. We are experimenting with how many villages a CLP can cover, and we are also trying full-time rather than part-time CLPs in order to cover a larger area. Education is particularly effective in preventing and reducing child labor, and so improving access to quality education will continue to be a key focus of our programs. Having established with our partner the Jacobs Foundation that bridge schools work well, we will set up a further 60 bridging classes to help over 1,500 children become literate and numerate so that they can reintegrate into mainstream schooling.
We’re also taking up Dr Amanda Berlan’s suggestion to listen to children more. In rolling out the system at scale we have probably sometimes missed their perspective, and we need to get that back. We want to improve links with other aspects of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and involve all our partners in implementing remediation. We need to innovate more, piloting new remediation activities and scaling up what works. A holistic approach also means improving livelihoods in cocoa-growing communities. We will work with farmers and experts to understand the levers to achieving a living income and help an increasing proportion of farmers to achieve it.
I’m delighted that we will be sourcing all our cocoa for Nestlé confectionery products through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025. This represents a doubling of our volume. Our CLMRS is a key component of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan where there is a high risk of child labour and so we will implement the CLMRS in all our sourcing from West Africa by 2025.
We commit to putting all of our effort behind the system, being open about our success and challenges, and to continue to report publicly. Annual numbers will be reported in our annual Nestlé in Society report, as well as on the Nestlé Cocoa Plan website, together with updates and blog posts.
The very process of producing this report has given us the chance to reflect on our progress, do a deep dive into the data and to meet some of the children and their families face to face. It’s been frustrating at times, enthralling at others, it has brought us delight and has brought us tears. We know we’re on a journey.
It’s brought some clarity and we’ve felt emboldened to make some difficult decisions, and it’s brought home the immense work still to do.
Darrell High, Head of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan