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One in five children in Africa are engaged in the worst forms of child labor and a clear roadmap to tackle this issue on all levels is necessary. This was stated during a preparation meeting for the Global Conference in Sustained Eradication of Child Labor and Consultation on Alliance 8.7, hosted by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
With an estimated 3.7 million African men, women and children still trapped in forced labor and working under coercion, largely in the informal economy, the African continent urgently needs practical and effective solutions to combat forced labor including human trafficking and modern slavery.
“Through Goal 8, the Sustainable Development Agenda places social justice and decent work for all at the heart of Agenda 2030. This represents an ambitious trajectory towards sustainable and inclusive growth and development. Target 8.7 of the Agenda calls on member states, social partner constituents and other relevant stakeholders collectively to eliminate child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030,” underlined Aeneas Chuma, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa.
The preparation meeting that was held from 22-23 June 2017 at Elilly Hotel had the main objective of identifying the common challenges, priorities and good practices in eliminating child labour in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where progress has come to a stop in that area.
Speaking on behalf of the Ethiopian Government, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdulfatah Abdullahi stated that the country has developed and implemented various development programs and strategies which have contributed to the efforts being made to address the problem of child labor. Some of the interventions include measures undertaken to increase child enrollment rates to primary education as well as creating access to social facilities such as health and clean water which otherwise could drift children to engage themselves with work.
“A National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor has been formulated and entered into force giving due emphasis to the protection of children against abuse and exploitation. In addition to the public awareness program being undertaken, a memorandum of understanding was signed among the tripartite partners to ensure the proper implementation of the Action Plan by putting in place a system for a continuous social dialogue,” he also said.
The Minister also noted that these are small steps and efforts need to scale-up at all levels. “These vulnerable children should be a true priority not only to the government but the community and other relevant actors at large. There is a need for a widespread advocacy on child labor and forced labor so that they become better integrated in the planning and design of intervention programs. Different institutional arrangements which could satisfy the physical, educational and health service needs of children should be strengthened,” he said.
ILO currently estimates that globally there are 21 million men, women and children suffering as victims of forced labor and human trafficking for labor exploitation. Africa has the second largest number of victims; 18 percent of the global total. The total illicit profits generated by the use of forced labor worldwide amounts to USD 150 billion per year.
Data also shows that there are 168 million girls and boys working in situations of child labor and sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest incidence of child labor with 59 million children aged 5 to 17 years.