Tulane University Study Documents Child Labor in West African Cocoa Production

tulaneWilliam Bertrand and Elke de Buhr, scholars at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans have conducted a study of the chocolate industry in West Africa which has produced some shocking statistics. According to their report, there were 2,120,000 child labors who worked on cocoa production in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire during the 2013-14 harvest season.

The study, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, found that 94 percent of these child laborers were involved in hazardous work. And the percentage of students exposed to hazardous work has increased in recent years, according to the Tulane study.

The only encouraging news in the report is that the percentage of these child workers who also attended school increased in both countries. In Ghana, 96 percent of the child laborers also attended school as did 71 percent in Cote d’Ivoire, up from 59 percent in the 2008-09 harvest season.

The full report, Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. What I found most amazing about this perfunctory mixed-methods study is that it utterly failed to identify the global confectionaries from Mars Inc., Mondelēz International (USA), Ferrero Group (Luxembourg / Italy), Nestlé SA (Switzerland), Meiji Co Ltd (Japan), Hershey Foods Corp (USA), Chocoladenfabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG (Switzerland), Arcor (Argentina), Ezaki Glico Co Ltd (Japan), or August Storck KG (Germany) that play a direct and indirect role in the exploitation of African children situated on the cocoa plantations. In other words, this study will merely garner the typical neoliberal sobbing from their lofty environs along with sipping on expensive wines pontificating about the ‘poor African children’. Talk about hypocrisy 101.

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