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FAO guidance note: Child labour in agriculture in protracted crises, fragile and humanitarian contexts

Pilot version

The pilot version of the FAO Guidance note on Child Labour in Agriculture in Protracted Crises, Fragile and Humanitarian Contexts has been updated in English with the new global estimates on child labour. Through a renewed, user-friendly layout, the publication provides technical and operational guidance to the agriculture, food security and nutrition programme implementers and formulators. Its aim is to enhance the sustainability of these programmes and to protect children from hazardous working conditions and activities that negatively affect their health, development and education during crises.

The main text is complemented with boxes, tables and highlight sheets providing recommendations and concrete examples to address situations of child labour in agriculture in these contexts.

Key messages

  • Food security, agriculture and child labour are closely linked. There are an estimated 168 million child labourers worldwide, 98 million (i.e. nearly 60 percent) of whom work in agriculture. The majority work as unpaid family members, often starting at an early age.
  • About 70 million (59 percent) of all children in hazardous work aged 5–17 are in agriculture. Agriculture can involve many hazards, such as exposure to pesticides, dangerous machinery, heavy loads, long hours and hostile environments, where children are more at risk than adults.
  • As of today, one in four children worldwide (nearly 535 million) grow up in areas affected by conflict or natural hazards. In these contexts, children pay a high price when a family’s capacity to provide adequate food, education and protection for children is compromised.
  • Some 100 million children and young people are affected by disaster each year and 230 million live in areas affected by armed conflict. Conflict and disaster can push children into child labour and its worst forms. Existing child labour tends to be intensified and new risks are created. Around the world, millions of children, on the move and in countries affected by humanitarian crises, are trapped in exploitative and dangerous work
  • The agriculture sector holds great potential before, during and after crises, to save lives and contribute to livelihoods, support rural households, provide decent employment and alternatives to child labour and its worst forms.
  • Agriculture, food security and nutrition programming is an essential component of the response to children’s needs and can contribute to addressing child labour.
  • Striving to address child labour through agriculture, food security and nutrition programming is key. Leaving no one behind, investing in humanity, and changing people’s lives from delivering aid to ending need will not happen without addressing child labour in protracted crises and in fragile and humanitarian contexts. 
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