Press Releases

Experts Validate the Report of the Evaluation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan for the Elimination Child Labour, especially the Worst Forms

26 Oct, 2020
Abuja, October 22, 2020

The ECOWAS Commission validated the report of the evaluation of the Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the elimination of child labour, especially the worst forms in West Africa from the 21st to 22nd of October 2020.

Cognisant of the challenges of child labour in the region, ECOWAS Ministers in charge of labour and employment in 2012 adopted the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the elimination child labour, especially the worst forms (2012-2015). The goal of the Regional Action Plan was to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in West Africa by 2015, while working towards its complete eradication in the long term.
Following the expiration of the plan in 2015, the ECOWAS Commission launched an assessment to evaluate the measures and actions taken by the Member states as part of the implementation of the plan.

The report of the findings of the assessment was the focus of the two-day virtual meeting with ECOWAS Member states child labour focal points, representatives of workers and employers organisations, CSOs, media, and development partners (ILO, UNICEF, ICMPD and IOM).
The objective of the meeting was to review the report of the evaluation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the elimination child labour, especially the worst forms (2012-2015) with a view to defining the key strategic pillars and priorities for a new regional action plan.

In her welcome address, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, underscored the importance of the meeting by highlighting that nearly 73 million children are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development. In addition, she noted that about 48 million children aged 5-14 depend on labour for survival in West Africa alone.
Commissioner Jagne stated that child labour is one of the protection priorities of the 2017 ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation against children in West Africa. She cited the ratification of the ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for work and the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour by all ECOWAS Member states as indication of the progress being made to implement the Regional Action Plan, and called for more urgent action by social partners and the Member states of ECOWAS to combat child labour.

The representative of the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations of Ghana, Mr. Peter Antwi, in his statement identified poverty, conflicts, political instability, weak educational systems and human capital development, as well as absence of effective child protection systems as major obstacles to the fight against child labour.

‘’I urge the Member states to create decent employment opportunities, maintain political stability and build quality educational systems for the development of the needed human capital for economic development,’’ he added stressing the need for the maintenance of peace and stability in the ECOWAS region without which children and women will bear the brunt of child labour.
The Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa), and the ACCEL Africa Project (Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child labour in the supply chains in Africa), funded respectively by the EU and government of the Netherlands supported the evaluation and the hosting of the virtual meeting.

According to the 2017 International Labour Organisation’s Global estimates of child labour, 152 million children (64 million girls and 88 million boys) are in child labour globally.

Mr David Dorkenoo, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Liaison Office for ECOWAS highlighted that Africa witnessed a rise in child labour during the 2012 to 2016 period, in contrast to the other major regions where child labour continued to decline, despite the number of targeted policies implemented by African governments to combat child labour.
“However, some of the interventions taken by the ECOWAS Commission such as the adoption of the ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action (2019 -2030), and the ECOWAS Child Protection Systems Strengthening Strategic Framework approved by the Member States in 2017 are key steps in the right direction to ending child labour in the region,’’ he added.

Experts adopted the report of the findings of the evaluation of the implementation of the Regional Action Plan with amendments, and made key recommendations on concrete actions that can accelerate and scale-up interventions, with additional resources at country and regional levels, so as to meet SDG 8.7 to end all forms of child labour by 2025 and forced labour, trafficking and modern slavery by 2030.

Member States