Supporting Kids in Cocoa-Growing Communities with the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS)
Hershey defines child labor according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and/or interferes with their schooling.
This is distinct from forced labor. Forced labor is defined by the ILO as situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.
Forced labor is totally unacceptable. As a member of International Cocoa Initiative’s Forced Labor Sub-Group, we are working with our peers and technical experts to advance knowledge, skills, and action on preventing, monitoring, identifying and addressing forced labor in cocoa supply chains.
In cocoa-growing communities, child labor is a complex issue resulting from a mix of poverty, cultural norms and misunderstandings about what constitutes appropriate farm work for children.
Not all work done by children is classified broadly as child labor. In many cases, some of this work by children, such as helping their parents around the home and assisting in a family business, falls within familial or cultural norms. However, poverty and a lack of educational opportunities in rural areas can lead to families requiring children to put in long hours at home and on family farms, which is often their sole source of income. This puts children at risk of performing farm work that is hazardous to their health and development.
In cocoa-producing regions, there are some types of child labor that, even though they form part of local norms and traditions, are recognized as inappropriate for children. That includes work such as carrying heavy loads like firewood or water or using sharp-edged tools. More recent farming practices, such as the use of agrochemicals, also present the risk of inappropriate tasks being carried out by children. This inappropriate child labor is what Hershey and our partners in the cocoa industry have pledged to help prevent and eliminate.
As part of its commitment to prevent and eliminate child labor, Hershey has implemented a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS). CLMRS, championed by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and proven to be an effective measure in helping to protect against child labor, is the leading method implemented at scale of child labor detection and remediation among children aged 5 to 17 years old. It is implemented by supply chain partners and community-based groups and used to identify child labor and monitor and help remediate when cases are found. We rely on data and reports provided by our suppliers who implement these programs in the field with support from Hershey.
We are encouraged by the early but positive impact of CLMRS and the scalability of this system. We recognize, however, that no single organization or initiative will solve all challenges. We will continue to invest and innovate while partnering with governments, NGOs, industry and other organizations as we work to create brighter futures for young people and communities in cocoa-growing regions.
Hershey does not tolerate child labor within our supply chain, and we are working to prevent and eliminate it within cocoa communities. By partnering with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), the developer of the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), we are now deploying the leading platform for identifying, tracking and remediating child labor through our supply partners.
CLMRS has four key elements: Prevention, Detection, Remediation and Reporting. Under CLMRS, members of local farmer groups and our suppliers’ staff are trained to detect and report instances of child labor. A community-level child protection committee is also equipped to do the same. As trusted community members, both groups are in the best position to raise community awareness, identify cases of child labor and implement the most appropriate practices to remediate those cases. In many instances, something as simple as providing children with school supplies or family farms with a wheelbarrow, clean cook stoves or better tools can have a positive impact. By improving farmers’ ease and efficiency of completing tasks around the farm, the need for children to lend a hand with more hazardous tasks is reduced.
The Hershey CLMRS programs are implemented by our suppliers on Hershey Cocoa For Good farms and in local communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The programs actively seek to prevent, identify and remediate any instances of child labor found in our cocoa supply chain.
For Hershey, “remediated” means that through our supply chain partners, a child has received mitigation efforts appropriate to their situation, such as being enrolled in school. As a result, the child no longer participates in activities defined as child labor and is no longer at risk of being enlisted to undertake these activities. Cases are considered “remediated” when measures have been documented over three years.
To date, our CLMRS programs cover 62% of Hershey cocoa volumes, and we are on the way to achieving our goal of 100% by 2025.
We have strengthened our CLMRS data methodology to align with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) reporting protocol and the World Cocoa Foundation’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning framework, which provides more in-depth guidance on definitions and data collection methods, as we continue on the path to 100% CLMRS coverage across our cocoa volume in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Hershey strives to align our KPIs to industry best practices and methodologies, including the International Cocoa Initiative, which are constantly improving and evolving.
Hershey is also a member of ICI’s Forced Labor Sub-Group, working with our peers and technical experts to advance knowledge, skills and action on preventing, monitoring, identifying and addressing forced labor in cocoa supply chains worldwide.
69,117 children were covered by our supplier-led CLMRS programs last year. These are children that live in cocoa farming households within our Cocoa For Good program and are receiving the benefits of the CLMRS program that seeks to prevent child labor from happening, identify instances of child labor and take action when found. We are on track to meet our commitment of 100 percent coverage of farmers producing Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025, achieving 62 percent since we began implementing CLMRS in 2018.
7,408 children in total were identified via CLMRS in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in 2022 as doing inappropriate work and are in process of remediation. This marks a 57 percent decrease since 2021.
4,268 children were found to no longer be doing inappropriate work or have aged out of the CLMRS program. An important aspect of CLMRS is to permanently remediate instances of child labor.
Capacity building is part of making CLMRS work. We continually strengthen our monitoring and remediation work through agents and community liaisons, which are a combination of paid workers and volunteers. In 2022, we had 1,686 agents and liaisons, as we consolidate our program to focus more on paid agents to implement CLMRS.
School kits distributed in 2022
Children enrolled in primary schools that benefited from quality education intervention
In spring 2020, we committed to achieve 100 percent visibility into the farmer groups participating in our Cocoa For Good program by 2025, which will include all of the cocoa volume sourced by our suppliers from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. As of December 2022, we have achieved 88 percent visibility.
This expanded commitment will make Hershey’s cocoa from these countries traceable from the farm to the first point of purchase, giving us a clear line of sight into where and how this cocoa is grown — providing more transparency for consumers and all stakeholders. It also enables us to expand CLMRS to cover 100 percent of our Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana-sourced cocoa volume by 2025.
As part of our holistic effort to eliminate child labor, we seek to remove barriers to children being able to attend school. We invest in initiatives and actions that make it easier for children to access and continue their education. Areas we focus on include improving education infrastructure, training school-parent management committees, providing school kits filled with important school supplies, and helping children and youth obtain birth certificates so they can enroll in school.
A full stomach improves a student’s ability to concentrate and learn — this can be the deciding factor in whether a child attends school. In collaboration with national and local government authorities, including school principals and supply chain partners in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, Hershey distributes ViVi, a daily peanut-based snack fortified with vitamins, to school children in cocoa-growing communities. ViVi, developed by Hershey and our partner Project Peanut Butter, provides children with 30 percent of their daily nutritional intake requirements.
Knowing that children will be fed at school is another reason to ensure they go to class, making it an important preventative tool in the fight against child labor. Research that Hershey has commissioned shows that providing ViVi improves children’s health and increases school enrollment and regular attendance while also enabling improved academic performance.
In October 2021, we also signed a five-year agreement with the Jacobs Foundation, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Education and Literacy and 14 other chocolate producers and cocoa suppliers to implement the Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF). This new public-private initiative will contribute to improved foundational literacy and numeracy skills for five million children at the primary school level and includes an investment in 2,500 new classrooms.
In April 2023, Hershey signed a Tripartite Agreement with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Oversight Committee of Actions Against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor (CNS) and the International Cocoa Initiative to fund the construction of 10 primary schools in cocoa-producing communities that currently do not have schools.