‘Child labour not only prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future, it also perpetuates poverty and affects national economies through losses in competitiveness, productivity and potential income.’ – International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Any work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and is harmful to their physical and mental development is child labour. An estimated 152 million children are in child labour worldwide, that is, about 1 in 10 of all children globally. Most children in child labour are between the ages of 5 – 11 year-olds, and in terms of economic activity most are employed in the agriculture sector.
For regions, Africa has the largest share of children in child labour and the highest prevalence of child labour. This is unsurprising as the continent has been most affected by conflict and disasters in recent times, and it has been shown that the risk of child labour is higher in situations of conflict and disaster. In Nigeria, the ILO estimates that about 43% of children are involved in child labour; most of which are engaged by private businesses.
Although there has been a decline in child labour, progress slowed between 2012 and 2016 such that there were 16 million less children in child labour between 2012 and 2016 compared to 47 million between 2008 and 2012. As a result, the ILO estimates that approximately 121 million children will still be in child labour by 2025 if efforts are not intensified globally to combat the problem.
What then can be done to combat child labour?
Being a signatory to and ratifying international conventions to ban child labour is a good start. However, nations must develop and enforce integrated policy responses that address factors that promote and enable child labour. Factors such as poverty and social vulnerability, limited legal protections, poor quality schooling and limited decent work opportunities, among others. Policy responses must be integrated into countries’ wider development efforts and tailored to local realities as well as make considerations for age and gender. Additionally, countries must invest in developing a knowledge base on child labour, particularly its forms and implications, that will inform policy responses.
As a pro-poor and inclusive programme with a mandate to improve the livelihoods of poor women and men in Northern Nigeria, Propcom Mai-karfi is invested in ensuring the protection of children in the communities we work in, including encouraging our partners to put in place measures to ensure children are protected and holding them accountable.
In line with our child protection focus, we organised a one-day workshop in collaboration with ILO Nigeria to sensitise staff about child labour in Nigeria and how child protection is aligned with the Programme’s goals. In addition to this, Propcom Mai-karfi is conducting a survey to understand the occurrence and prevalence of child labour in Northern Nigeria. This study will enhance our understanding of the dynamics of child labour as well as contribute to the knowledge base on child labour in Nigeria.