FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

The largest global reduction in hazardous child labor occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean

Hazardous child labour dropped by 2.4 percentage points between 2012 and 2016; total child labor fell 1.5% in the same period.

More than 10 000 children work in Latin America and the Caribbean.

June 12, 2018, Santiago, Chile - The most important decrease in hazardous child labor in the world occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the Regional Office of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization during the World Day Against Child Labor.

The latest report of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on hazardous work indicates that between 2012 and 2016, the region registered a reduction of 2.4 percentage points in its proportion of children engaged in hazardous work.

The fall in Latin America and the Caribbean was the largest in the world, followed by Asia and the Pacific. The third most important decline occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.

But Latin America and the Caribbean not only reduced the most dangerous forms of child labor, but also child labor as a whole.

According to the latest figures from the ILO, the percentage of children working between 5 and 17 fell from 8.8% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2016, a drop of 1.5%.

The percentage of child labor in the region in 2016 was similar to that of Asia and the Pacific (7.4%) but much lower than in Sub-Saharan Africa (22.4%).

This means that if in 2012 more than 12 500 children worked in the region, by 2016 only 10 461 did so.

“The reduction of child labor and especially its most hazardous forms is great news for everyone. Child labor is unacceptable from every point of view, and it is very positive that our is moving forward to eradicate it. Of course, we can go faster with a little more effort from our governments and from companies in the agri-food sector,” said FAO’s Regional Representative Julio Berdegué.

According to the FAO, half of the children who work in Latin America and the Caribbean do so in agriculture. At a global level, this figure is even higher: three out of every four children who work do so in agriculture. 108 million are dedicated to agriculture, livestock, forestry or aquaculture.

"To ensure that no child has to work, governments must develop specific policies focused on agricultural child labor. But, in addition, the companies of the sector must do their part, whichs is by no means a small part”, said Berdegué.