A snake in the grass
Walking through the small village of Koffessou in Côte d’Ivoire, Community Liaison Dibi Konan spotted two children doing something he didn’t like the look of.
As an experienced cocoa farmer himself, Dibi had been chosen by the elders to work with the Nestlé Cocoa Plan in the village to help tackle child labour.
Since the village is so small, Dibi knew the two boys personally. They were the sons of a local cocoa farmer. The youngest was just six years old and the eldest still only eight. Approaching them he saw they were setting a rat trap — Agouti or the Greater Cane Rat is considered something of a delicacy in this part of Africa.
Tending to a trap is viewed as hunting, which is counted as child labour by the Ivorian government. Since traps are dangerous, Dibi immediately stopped the boys and sent them home.
As soon as he could, he visited the boys’ father for an explanation. It transpired that the father was unaware that the boys had been hunting. They had taken it upon themselves to try setting the trap, having watched their father do it many times before. Dibi helped the father explain to the boys why what they had done was dangerous. Having first gotten the approval of the father, he showed the boys a real picture from his teaching materials of a child that had been bitten by a snake while setting a rat trap.
“They were really shocked,” commented Dibi, “they swore they would never do it again and I could tell they meant it.”
While this was not cocoa-related child labour, what they were doing was dangerous and needed to be stopped. The Nestlé Cocoa Plan’s system provided a mechanism to do this and to prevent it happening again.