In the first venture of its kind, the governments of the US and Ghana have formed an historic partnership to help eradicate child trafficking and child labour in the West African country.
Under the Child Protection Compact (CPC) the two governments will confront Ghana’s child slavery problem. Some estimates suggest that one in six children between the ages of six and 14 are forced to work. Around £3.5m will be invested in the scheme over five years.
The funds will be used to: free children known to be working as slaves; help more than 2,000 community leaders and local authorities recognise the signs of child trafficking and enforced labour; ease the reintegration of victims into society and raise public awareness of the issue.
In Ghana, most forced labour victims work in fishing, cocoa and gold mining. Sex trafficking of girls is also particularly prevalent in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta regions of the country, where some of the CPC money will be invested.
In the past 10 years, Ghana’s government has made several moves to eradicate child slavery, making it mandatory to attend primary school and passing laws to prohibit human trafficking and the overworking of children.
The government is also working with the world’s top five chocolate producers in Hershey, Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez and Ferrero to ensure children are not being exploited in their supply chains. These companies have all agreed to independent monitoring of their supply chains. The goal is to eliminate the “worst forms of child labour” on their cocoa farms by 2020.
Some analysts believe this target is over-optimistic as a 2014 study by America’s Tulane University suggested that more than 2m children do ‘hazardous work’ on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire which, together, account for 70% of the world’s supply of cocoa.
With the average annual wage for a Ghanaian cocoa worker at around £325, many children are pressed into work by their own families. Still, some progress has been made, with Tulane estimating that the number of Ghanaian children not attending school has fallen by 87.5% in the past five years.
Susan Coppedge, US Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said of the partnership with Ghana: “It represents the inaugural opportunity for the United States to work cooperatively with the Ghanaian ministries responsible for child protection and law enforcement and the civil society organisations that work diligently to end child trafficking in Ghana and build a better future for Ghana’s children.”