The Child Labour Education and Resilience (CLEAR) project of the Lutheran World Relief (LWR), towards eliminating child labour in cocoa production, has been launched in Ondo state.
BusinessDay reports that the CLEAR project, which spans one year from October 2023 to the end of September 2024 in Idanre and Ifedore local government areas of Ondo State, seeks to address the causes of child labour, to empower communities that have limited education on child labour, to help improve net income from cocoa farming and other sources, and to equip children of cocoa farmers with life-building skills.
Speaking during the launching of the project in Akure, the Ondo state capital, Nene Akwetey-Kodjoe, chief of party, Lutheran World Relief, said the project was founded by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in partnership with the Ondo State Government, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, and International Labour Organisation (ILO).
According to Akwetey-Kodjoe, “We are to ensure that in these two specific communities, Idanre and Ifedore, the children are not involved in child labour or to ensure the incidences of children working in hazardous conditions in the production of cocoa is reduced to the barest minimum.
“So, we are bringing on board the support, we have a little bit of funding for the year to eliminate or reduce the incidence of child labour in hazardous tasks, not children helping their parents. This particular project, the CLEAR, is limited to these two communities in Ondo State and we have a larger project called TRACE in agriculture and cocoa ecosystems. So we amplify whatever we learn in the implementation of CLEAR in the TRACE project.”
Adeola Adegoke, president of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), in his goodwill message, urged all the cocoa-origin countries to make sure that what they were producing must be child labour and deforestation-free.
According to him, “this kind of project brought by Lutheran World Relief is timely and it is going to add value to other programmes that I know government has been doing in the state.
“We are still struggling as a country with forest if cocoa is being rejected at the international market and that is why CFAN is very keen to partner with Lutheran World Relief to make sure that this project succeeds because the earlier it succeeds, the earlier it is guaranteed a free flow of our market.
“Ondo State is passionate about cocoa and we believe that we want to increase the production and also produce in high-quality one that is internationally compliant and it must be child labour free. CFAN is committed to making sure that this project succeeds in Ifedore and Idanre local government areas of the state.”
Olalekan Adesida, the representative of the Ondo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, said the stand of the state government is to make sure that the project succeeds in the state.
Olanike Mogboruko, Ondo state controller, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, who also spoke at the event, charged all critical stakeholders who are in partnership with the project, to put all hands on deck in order to achieve the set targets within the short period of time.
According to Mogboruko, “I have high hopes that child labour practices among cocoa farmers in the selected communities will be reduced to the barest minimum. For us at the ministry, we are always ready to collaborate and deploy the best hands and labour tools in our fight against child labour in Ondo state.”
Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who launched the CLEAR project said; “the state government cares about the children as a whole, most of those children who could not find their fit at the farms are on the streets in Akure begging for money and Ondo state took it up as a responsibility to evacuate them from the streets, some of them are in schools right now being sponsored by the government and some of them are also in the higher institutions.”
Aiyedatiwa, who was represented by the President, National Council for Women Society, Oluseyi Odusola said; “we are here for war against child labour and that is why we are appreciating the Lutheran World Relief for organizing this kind of programme in Ondo state”
While Olawale Awoyemi, deputy chief of the party, Lutheran World Relief, during the presentation of the Child Labour Education and Resilience project, said despite the existence of strong policy frameworks and initiatives aimed at eliminating child labour, implementation and coordination remained a challenge due to inadequate funding and a lack of capacity within relevant government departments and committees.
Awoyemi said the objectives of the CLEAR project were to increase awareness of teachers, parents, and community leaders about child labour and its negative impacts, to improve the socio-economic status and resilience of parents and to increase entrepreneurial activities through vocational clubs in schools.
According to him, the activities of the project include; sensitization, capacity building and entrepreneurship clubs.