The students and one of the new washrooms in Ghana

The children of Ghanaian cocoa farmers who supply to one of New Zealand’s favourite chocolate brands have two new school washrooms as part of Whittaker’s initiative to build closer relationships with suppliers.

The move comes as part of the company’s new partnership with Rainforest Alliance and journey to deliver full traceability of cocoa across the entire cocoa supply-chain.

Whittaker’s co-chief operating officer, Matt Whittaker, says under the Rainforest Alliance partnership, the company has increased its investment in making certified cocoa which benefits the two cooperatives directly and will mean further complementary initiatives can be planned for the same operations.

“While travel this year has been disrupted, we typically visit our two Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa cooperatives in Ghana regularly and on our last trip there in late 2019, we asked them what more we could do to improve conditions for them and their communities.

“They both identified that their respective schools needed more washrooms, which are important for providing access to safe and hygienic facilities so children can concentrate on learning. We’re really pleased to have the chance to contribute something that they themselves identified as a real need and look forward to continuing to work with them on ways we can help make a difference,” says Whittaker.

Whittaker’s funded the design and construction of a 92 square metre washroom at Kofi Gyan Primary and Junior High School in Asankrangwa and a 73 square metre washroom at Gold Coast Camp Primary and Junior High School in Assin Fosu.

The washrooms were built by local contractors and feature new plumbing that reduces risks of wastewater contamination of land and waterways as well as improved hygiene. The new facilities were completed at the end of November, in time for them to be operational within the first term of Ghana’s school year.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic Whittaker’s also airfreighted 2,000 masks to Ghana and purchased 2,200 bottles of hand sanitiser in Ghana to support the local economy – to help keep cocoa farmers at the Asankrangwa and Assin Fosu cocoa cooperatives safe.

These initiatives are part of Whittaker’s wider sustainability-focused ‘Good Honest Chocolate’ programme, which includes initiatives to achieve full traceability of cocoa by 2025 in line with international commitments.