United against child labour: The Government of the Netherlands and the ILO renew their partnership through the 2nd phase of the ACCEL Africa project.

The ILO and the Netherlands are uniting against child labour through the 2nd phase of the ACCEL Africa project in a holistic approach.

Article | Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire | 28 September 2023
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire — In a significant move toward eradicating child labour and promoting sustainable development in target supply chains in Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are proud to announce their renewed collaboration through the 2nd phase of “Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chain in Africa” (ACCEL Africa) project.

The 2nd phase of the ACCEL Africa project has been indeed designed to bring concrete responses to priority areas identified and discussed in the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour held in Durban, South Africa in May 2022."

Coffi Agossou, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Africa
The beginning of the 2nd phase was officialised through a meeting, that took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, between Mr. Marchel Gerrmann, the Director of the Sustainable Economic Development Department (DDE) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Mr. Coffi Agossou, the Deputy Regional Director of the ILO Regional Office for Africa and Mr. Frédéric Lapeyre, the Director of the ILO Country Office in Cote d’Ivoire. In the meeting, the project’s first phase success and the implementation of its second phase were discussed.

Underscoring the urgency of this project, the ILO recalls that data from the 2020 Global Estimates of Child Labour, show that the number of children involved in child labour has increased for the first time in 20 years, from 152 million in 2016 to 160 million in 2020. This surge has been primarily seen in sub-Saharan Africa, where 92.2 million children, or 23.9% of the child population, are engaged in child labour—more than the rest of the world combined. These alarming figures do not account for the exacerbating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Netherlands is committed to eradicate Child Labour in Global Supply Chains. The ILO has proven to be a very important partner for this agenda, they have a lot of knowledge and experience, especially when it concerns working in partnership with governments and social partners on creating the conditions needed. We are therefore happy to extend our collaboration with them in the second phase of the ACCEL Africa project."

Marchel Gerrmann, Director Sustainable Economic Development Department (DDE) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
As the only tripartite UN agency, the ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers together, fostering a balanced approach to combat child labour and promote decent work in supply chains, especially in Africa. Through key initiatives such as the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work and the Abidjan Declaration, the ILO has placed an emphasis on eradicating child labour and promoting decent work across borders.

Further to the above, the ILO serves as the Secretariat for Alliance 8.7, aligning closely with SDG Target 8.7 to end child labour by 2025. It also hosts the ILO's Child Labour Platform (CLP) which works to identify and overcome challenges in implementing ILO conventions on child labour in supply chains. Under this context, the ACCEL Africa 2nd phase exemplifies the "One ILO" framework by involving multiple ILO branches and units, creating a cohesive and integrated approach to maximize impact and sustainability.

ACCEL Africa project 2nd phase: An integrated approach for the eradication of child labour

The ACCEL Africa Project takes a systematic approach to eliminate child labour at its roots by strengthening existing mechanisms at multiple levels of governance. Building upon the strategic successes and innovations piloted during its first phase, ACCEL's 2nd phase is designed to consolidate and institutionalize the gains made.

The project also builds on the 2022 Durban Call to Action, aiming to:
  • Eradicate child labour by tackling its root causes using multi-stakeholder, whole-of-supply chain approaches and integrated area-based approaches.
  • Advance gender equality, social inclusion, and decent work in labour markets.
  • Enhance institutional mechanisms to promote fundamental principles and rights at work.
The project works in key supply chains: cocoa, coffee, cotton, gold, and tea across Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda. The ACCEL Africa Project places a comprehensive focus on multiple facets of labour issues, aiming for a holistic improvement in working conditions for vulnerable populations. The project addresses Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) by instituting better conditions for workers, particularly at the lower tiers of supply chains. In terms of livelihoods, it seeks to provide workers with the necessary support to improve their standard of living, aiming for long-term sustainability.

We must recognize the role of Côte d'Ivoire within Alliance 8.7 as a pioneer country at the forefront of efforts to develop new approaches aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 concerning eradication of child labor, forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking.."

Frédéric Lapeyre, Director of the ILO Country Office for Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo

Social Protection is another cornerstone of the project, ensuring that these workers gain improved access to vital social safety nets. Lastly, the project focuses on youth employment, specifically facilitating a smoother transition from school to decent work for those children who are above the minimum age for employment. Each of these areas is crucial for achieving the overarching goal of eradicating child labour and promoting decent work conditions.

In summary, this event is a key step forward in the collective mission to eradicate child labour and promote sustainable development in Africa. The project not only aims to consolidate and expand upon the lessons and successes of its first phase, but also leverages the unique tripartite structure of the ILO, key partnerships, and an integrated multi-departmental approach to deliver comprehensive solutions through knowledge sharing.

As the urgency to reverse the rising trends in child labour mounts, the 2nd phase of the ACCEL Africa project provides a model of effective multi-stakeholder cooperation.