A Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) funded project in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region, which seeks to reduce forced/child labour in mining and cocoa growing communities, is yielding results.
Stakeholders in the beneficiary communities say the various interventions by mining and cocoa companies are raising their living standards while building their capacities to demand for what is due them from the companies and duty bearers.
At a third quarterly meeting of the stakeholders on deepening the commitments and actions of companies and government agencies at Nyinahin in the region, the community members took turns to express their appreciation for the positive impact the project was making in their lives.
It focuses on the protection of children and vulnerable workers against forced and worse forms of child labour.
Stakeholders in the cocoa value chain, especially cocoa buying companies and gold mining associations, as part of the project, are being engaged on their commitments towards the fight against the menace.
The capacity of community volunteers in all the 40 project districts have been built in advocacy strategy, the concept of forced and child labour, and the use of mobile app to collect data on implementation of commitments by government and companies towards the eradication of child and forced labour.
Knowledge acquired and the confidence gained was helping them with the follow-ups on commitments to ensuring they were fulfilled, the community members said.
Madam Aba Oppong, the Executive Director of Rights and Responsibilities Initiatives Ghana (RRIG), who led the discussion as local partner of the project, enumerated the various interventions in the communities.
She said companies such as Cocoa Life, CARGIL Limited, Solidaridad, Agyeidabi Mining Company, OFI Cocoa Company, and Kokoo Pa had been implementing projects in communities within their operational areas.
These include the risk assessment and profiling of individuals/vulnerable people to ensure appropriate interventions, formation of village savings and loans association, and community child protection committees, of which the members had been trained to update their knowledge on child labour issues.
Madam Oppong said women and young girls were the most vulnerable and stressed the need to empower them to take part in issues on community development.
Mr Lawrence Osei, the District Assembly representative, said the Assembly had been working with non-governmental organisations in the fight against child/forced labour.
He promised to relay all concerns raised by the stakeholders to the authorities to inform policy.
Mr Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, Secretary, Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners, responded to issues raised by the participants and assured them of the Association’s commitment to addressing them.
Mrs Joyce Poku-Marboah, the Senior Project Manager, said some progress had been made in awareness creation on the negative effects of forced/child labour in communities where the project was being implemented.
Community members could now appreciate the problems associated with child labour and were conscious of the role they could play to address such problems.
Mrs Poku-Marboah said the communities, until the implementation of the project, never had the opportunity to meet mining, cocoa companies, and government agencies on such issues.
‘Now they have relationships with the companies and the Assembly so when they have problems, they know who to talk to and do the necessary follow-ups to ensure fulfilment,’ she said.
Source: Ghana News Agency