DOL to spend $12M on efforts to reduce child labor in West Africa

The Obama administration announced plans Thursday to spend $12 million on efforts to reduce child labor in the West African cocoa industry.

The Department of Labor (DOL) said $9 million will be given in grants to two projects in the cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. One of the projects is meant to ensure children can safely get a quality education and another is meant to give at-risk youth the opportunity to develop marketable skills and secure safe and age-appropriate work.

In both countries, a portion of the project funds will support efforts to empower local communities to act on their own initiative and develop action plans to address child labor in cocoa-growing areas.

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The other $3 million will be used to study how effective the projects are at combating child labor in these regions by governments, civil society and the international cocoa and chocolate industry.

The DOL said their announcement follows a Tulane University study, funded by the DOL's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, that found there are more than 2 million children still engaged in hazardous work in the cocoa sectors of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

“While progress has been made, we know that much work remains to be done,” Secretary of Labor Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said in a statement. “There is an urgent need to find new ways for accelerating, scaling up and sustaining progress on child labor in cocoa. Time is not on our side. Childhoods — and with them the opportunity for quality education and a better life — fade with every passing season.”