Present in Côte d’Ivoire ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Ms. Mohammed made this field visit on May 8 to Soubré, capital de la Nawa, in the south-west of the country.
This visit took place with a view to better understanding the complexity and challenges of a sustainable approach to cocoa and to highlighting the approach implemented by the United Nations System in support of the Government’s efforts to improve the sustainable cocoa production in the Nawa region and in Côte d’Ivoire.
First stage of the visit of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, the village of Kouakoukro. In this camp located on the outskirts of Soubré, UNICEF is supporting the National Rural Development Agency (ANADER) on a so-called “Camps-Ecole” initiative which consists of bringing together a group of producers who receive training in the techniques cocoa farming to improve their agricultural productivity and by extension their income in order to eliminate child labour.
“This field school initiative not only has a positive impact on our income, but it also contributes to solving the problem of child labor since we work in solidarity in the fields and our income helps us to hire more workers. work”, explained the chief of the village of Kouakoukro, himself a cocoa producer.
Addressing the producers, Amina Mohammed hailed the interest of the “Champs-Ecole” initiative. “Our exchanges in this field have helped me to better understand the efforts made through various partnerships to improve cocoa production in the interest of children, so that they no longer have to work on the plantations, but also in the interest of families by improving their income. It’s a great initiative to help actors from the production stage,” she said. She also welcomed the place given to women cocoa producers.
“Women, some of whom are small producers, need to be supported and take full advantage of the increased agricultural income from field schools to improve their quality of life and that of their families,” she said. added.
Visit to a reception center for vulnerable children
Following Kouakoukro, the delegation visited the reception center for children in distress in Soubré. In 2018, to promote better structured care and reintegration of children removed from cocoa fields in the Nawa region, the First Lady, Dominique Ouattara, opened this reception center for vulnerable children in Soubré.
“I was impressed by the investments intended to reintegrate the children who worked in the cocoa plantations into the education system, with the support of the First Lady, the Government, the United Nations to offer them access to health , education and give them hope to dream of a better future. This center includes a suite of complete and quality infrastructures that meet a diversity of needs in the education of children,” said Amina Mohammed after visiting the center.
At the health center in the locality of Yabayo, 20km from Soubré, Amina Mohammed accompanied by the Ministers of Planning and Development, Women, Family and Children as well as that of Employment and Social Protection , was explained the new birth registration mechanism.
A new birth registration system
The birth registration rate in cocoa-growing regions of Côte d’Ivoire is below the national average and the lack of birth certificates adds to the multiple vulnerabilities facing children, including child labor . Non-registration of births is a contributing factor to child labor as children without birth certificates cannot take the school leaving exam and are excluded from school and equal opportunities in life.
The new registration system involving the Ministries of Justice, Health and Interior, and supported by UNICEF, is now structured around birth registration from the maternity ward of the health center.
“Since this mechanism was implemented, the birth registration rate has improved significantly, going from 150 births declared in the past to more than 600 annual births registered on average now,” explained the chief medical officer of the Yabayo health center which also stressed the need to raise awareness among rural communities to encourage them to continue to register births.
High rate of deforestation
With nearly 80% loss of its forest cover since 1960, Côte d’Ivoire is today one of the countries with the highest deforestation rates in the world. According to the National Bureau of Technical Studies and Development (BNETD), cocoa farming, through the extension of cultivated areas, is one of the main direct factors in the depletion of forest resources.
In Soubre; As in several cocoa production areas, the Conseil du café-cacao, the government agency regulating coffee and cocoa, has initiated a project to restore the forest cover with a view to maintaining the conditions for sustainable coffee and cocoa production. cocoa.
Amina Mohammed was able to visit a cocoa plantation applying agroforestry techniques. She congratulated the authorities for this initiative because “it is essential for a country like Côte d’Ivoire which has lost nearly 80% of its forest cover to engage in forestry. Agroforestry allows farmers to diversify their production, to reforest agricultural land, thus to fight against global warming and to provide new means of subsistence. The regeneration of plantations is essential to the sustainability of the cocoa sector”.
Eliminate child labor
In Grand-Zattry, 40 km from Soubré, the International Labor Organization (ILO) is implementing the “Accel” project, which aims to accelerate the elimination of child labor and promote decent work for producers through access to social protection for producers and the improvement of their living and working conditions.
In this locality, the delegation of the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations interacted with members of cooperatives and communities benefiting from an Association Villageoise d’Epargne et de Crédits (AVEC) and the WIND approach of the ILO which promotes health and safety at work. “Discussions with you allowed me to see how production could be improved through new methods and good agricultural practices,” said the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
Ending her visit, Amina Mohammed expressed her satisfaction for the joint initiatives of the Ivorian Government and partners in the development of sustainable cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire.
“This visit to Soubré was very inspiring. It enabled me to appreciate the strategic and operational support that the United Nations provides to the Government, in collaboration with the other technical and financial partners, both bilateral and multilateral. she summed up, before calling for more international support for Côte d’Ivoire and cocoa-producing countries.
“With these efforts made by the Ivorian authorities and their partners for sustainable cocoa production, the pressure is now on the side of the international community. We must apply here the solutions advocated at the international level. More investment is needed in the area of climate change, energy transition, agricultural transformation and the digital economy. Our commitment is to uphold this advocacy in favor of Côte d’Ivoire,” she added.
Cocoa, of which Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer with 40% of world production by volume, represents up to 20% of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 40% of export earnings, and more than 10% of government revenue. More than six million people work in the sector and 70-80% of farmers’ income depends on it. A sustainable approach to production is crucial to ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the country.
An article produced by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire.