Daloa: Cocoa-Growing Economic Operators Offer School Infrastructure to Village Communities

By Constant Cocora with AIP
Apr 6, 2022 12:55 PM ET
Article

A foundation, the cocoa industry and farmer cooperatives united their energies to offer, on Wednesday March 23, 2022, in the department of Daloa, school infrastructures to several village communities in order to
participate in the education of thousands of children victims of the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa fields.

Lolinzo, a village located about 20 kilometers from the "City of Antelopes" (Daloa), will not soon forget this ceremony marking the official handover of 24 classrooms. An initiative that is part of the vision of the National Action Plan to Combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor (PFTE) and responds to the government's objective of making school compulsory for children aged six to 16 in order to contribute to better access to education in cocoa-producing communities.

The other village communities, namely Bologuhé, Leonkro, Yokoréa, and Kambelesso,-- all also beneficiaries of these classrooms, offices, canteens, and hydraulic pumps financed by the cocoa company Cargill and its
partner Hershey with the technical support of the International Cocoa Initiative Foundation (ICI), a charitable organization registered in Switzerland -- were well represented under the 10 tents that were erected for the occasion, which saw the keys to these various infrastructures formally presented to village chiefs.

"When you are too happy, you have to go molo-molo (slowly), you must not talk too much otherwise you will spoil everything", said Daouda Touré, chief of the village of Lolinzo as he spoke in the local language during the opening libation ceremony to welcome to the donors, government officials and local traditional leaders.

After the address of the village chief, entertainment was provided by local women members of the Liwaga Association who performed dance steps from Burkina Faso to help to relax the atmosphere, under a blazing sun.

Mamoutou Kané, representative of the Anitché Farmers Cooperative, one of the key partners in this project, indicated that the construction of these various school structures aims to bring the benefits of education closer to children living in the communities where the cooperative is active.

To guarantee the sustainability of these establishments, the ICI country director, Aka Euphrasie, urged the beneficiary communities to make good use of them. She asked the communities to help ensure that the schools would produce the future leaders of the region and, by extension, the country.

"We will not stop campaigning and encouraging all our partners to invest in education and schooling of children as part of their sustainable development programs", assured Ms. Aka, calling on children to be studious and respectful of their parents.

A message well received by chocolate maker Hershey whose director, Tim McCoy, estimated at nearly 101 million FCFA (US$106,000), the cost of the various structure built to support the well-being of children. "We
strongly believe that education is the key to a better future for our children," said Mr. McCoy, expressing Hershey Company's gratitude to the communities who have accepted this much-needed support for education and development, as he wished the children much success.

Cargill West-Africa, represented by its sustainability director, Jean-Marie Delon, focused on the empowerment of women from different communities. One of the strategic axes of Cargill’s fight against child labor, "supporting women means supporting the resilience of producers' households, an ideal
way to meet this challenge".

After a performance by the mysterious Saplon mask that livened up the crowd, Cargill presented to the women of the different communities’ equipment including shredders, tricycles, chairs and tarpaulins to improve their activities and assist their income generating activities.

The donations dazzled the students. Through the voice of their spokesperson, Myriam Koné, they expressed their gratitude for the generosity of the donors, whom she described as an "angel of God" who were
instruments of his actions. "Your children that we are will remain studious and will take care of this magnificent gift", promised Miss Koné, who took part with two of her classmates in a recitation exercise that focused on the theme, "a child who is safe has faith in the future".

To thunderous applause, the sub-prefect of the Department of Daloa, Massouma Méité, thanked the donors, saying they have understood the meaning of the actions that the Ivorian government continues to carry out to put an end to child labor in cocoa-growing.

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