Accra, March 21, GNA - Ms. Sherin Khan of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Monday stressed that the West African Cocoa/Commercial Agriculture Project (WACAP), which seeks to eliminate child labour in the cocoa sector, was not set up merely to enforce the issue of certification of cocoa from producing countries.
Rather, she said, the programme was aimed to prevent such children from being exploited and engaged in hazardous work at the expense of their health and education.
Ms. Khan was speaking at a mid-term evaluation and National Stakeholders Workshop in Accra.
WACAP began in 2003 and has the main objective to prevent and eliminate hazardous child labour in cocoa farms and other selected agricultural sectors in C=F4te d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria.
The International Confectionery Association and other stakeholders in the cocoa industry have set July 1, 2005 for produce from all cocoa producing companies to be certified as being free from child labour.
However, Ms Khan said the move by the stakeholders to get the countries to appreciate the issue should not be mixed up with the long-term objective of WACAP to raise awareness about the problem in order to get community leaders to combat and prevent child labour.
Ms Ann Ly, Programme Officer (ILO/IPEC/WACAP), said much education and training had been done to get government officials, community leaders and NGOs to help in the fight against the practice.
She said over 3,000 children had been withdrawn or prevented from child labour through access to formal education or vocational training in the five countries.
To ensure that the children stay out of child labour and to complement their families' income over 100 adult family members have been trained in income generating activities and another batch of 400 would receive similar training in the coming months.
Mrs Rita Owusu-Amankwah, Country Programme Coordinator of ILO/IPEC/WACAP) said a total of 738 children had been withdrawn or prevented from child labour out of which 646 had been placed in basic and junior secondary schools with 92 others under apprenticeship.