To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child labour, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) analysed data from 263 communities in Côte d’Ivoire. In these communities, 1,443 cocoa-growing households were visited under ICI’s Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) between 17 March and 15 May 2020 to identify cases of child labour. ICI’s findings show that the percentage of children identified in child labour was higher during this two-month period, at 19.4%, compared to 16% in the same months in the same communities in previous years. This corresponds to a 21.5% increase in child labour identification.

Statistical tests support the hypothesis that the increase in child labour identification during 17 March to 15 May 2020 is related to the shock of COVID-19 and not due to a general trend. Further research will be needed to better understand the mechanisms at work.

This analysis compares the situation in 263 cocoa communities prior to, and during the partial lockdown, to understand the effects of this shock on child labour. This study was not designed to analyse – and should not be used to draw conclusions about – broader trends in relation to child labour prevalence.

The findings highlight the need to mobilise further international support to reinforce efforts currently being made by the government, industry and civil society partners to tackle child labour and improve children’s access to fundamental rights.

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