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What causes child labour in cocoa?

The causes of child labour are unique to each child. This makes it a challenging issue to address. Every case must be considered individually. However, some root causes and indicators exist. 

Poverty and demographics

Poverty is a significant problem for cocoa farmers, and it is also a contributing factor to urbanisation. As young adults leave rural communities, farmers look to their younger children for support.

Education and infrastructure

In rural areas, there is an acute lack of schools, with children often having to walk several kilometres to the nearest one — if any are reachable at all. Those schools that do exist are often overcrowded and lacking in resources.

Culture and tradition

Many farmers involve their children in work because they intend to provide them with useful, practical ‘training’ for potential future careers as farmers. These parents usually undertook the same tasks themselves when young, so they do not perceive them as wrong.


Ivorian children estimated
to be in child labour


Average median age
in Côte d’Ivoire


Average age of cocoa
farmers in Côte d’Ivoire


Of children said, “helping
their family” was their main
reason for working

CLMRS socio-demographic indicators

CLMRS data involving 39,215 children aged 5-17 analysed in February 2017 demonstrates the multidimensional nature of child labour

Number of child
labourers based on
the type of hazardous
work carried out

Child Labour type of work


Division of child
labourers based on
their gender


Division of child labour

Occurrence of
child labour based
on community

community characteristics

of child labour
based on age


age based child labour occurence

“There is a belief in Côte d’Ivoire that life is tough, and children must be deliberately placed into difficult situations so that they become tough too.”

Mathilde Koua N’Godo Sokoty,
Nestlé Cocoa Plan
Human Rights Manager, Côte d’Ivoire