Children’s work in the livestock sector: Herding and beyond





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Agriculture is by far the largest sector where child labour is found and one of the most dangerous in terms of fatalities, accidents and occupational diseases. Almost 60 percent of girls and boys (aged 5–17 years) in hazardous work are found in agriculture, historically and traditionally an under-regulated sector and one in which regulation enforcement is also difficult in many countries. Livestock forms a considerable subsector within agriculture, with global demand for animal products rising. The livestock sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural economy and contributes 40 percent of the global value of agricultural output, according to the FAO State of Food and Agriculture report (SOFA, 2009). Furthermore, livestock represents at least a partial source of income and food security for 70 percent of the world´s 880 million rural poor who live on less than USD 1.00 a day (Neely et al., 2009). Within rural environments, livestock keeping has historical, cultural and traditional roots, and the involvement of children is very common. Age-appropriate tasks that do not expose children to conditions that are likely to cause them harm, that do not have negative health or development consequences and do not interfere with a child´s compulsory schooling and leisure time can be a normal part of growing up. Such acceptable work can teach a child certain skills and may have inherent social, educational and cultural value. However, much of the work children do in the livestock sector can be categorized as child labour: it is likely to be hazardous, to interfere with a child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

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