FAO Regional Office for Africa

“To achieve Zero Hunger, we must ensure zero child labour”

FAO pledges to end child labour in agriculture in Africa


1 April 2021, Addis Ababa - Acknowledging the reality that child labour continues to undermine the global effort to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has reaffirmed its commitment to end child labour in the agriculture sector.

FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), David Phiri, conveyed FAO’s pledge at a virtual event yesterday to launch the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour in Africa, organised by the African Union and the International Labour Organization. The event focused on the AU’s Ten Year Action Plan (2020-2030) on Eradication of Child Labour, Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in Africa.

 Of the 72 million child labourers in Africa, 85 percent work in the agriculture sector, such as crop production, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture. Most of children’s agricultural work is unpaid and takes place within the family unit.

Phiri pledged FAO’s commitment to intensify its work to address this predicament through a dedicated work programme within the FAO Strategic Framework.

“To achieve Zero Hunger, we must have zero child labour,” Phiri stressed, adding that, “child labour in agriculture harms children, damages the agriculture sector and perpetuates rural poverty. This year, FAO will step-up its efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and decent youth employment in their work. Policies, strategies, programmes, and investments related to agri-food systems will need to address the root causes of child labour, including household poverty.”

Momentum towards ending child labour

Burkina Faso’s Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Protection and Chair of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment, Séni Mahamadou Ouedraogo, noted in his opening remarks that the Ten Year Regional Action Plan contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ Target 8.7, which includes ending child labour in all its forms by 2025, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.  Both the SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063 call on all to take bold measures to eradicate forced labour.

“The Plan is the reflection of the political will of African leaders to end modern slavery, human trafficking and all forms of child labour as an essential step to ensure Africa’s future, with inclusive and sustained economic growth – for which all actors must play their roles in a concerted manner,” he said.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, represented by Amira El Fadil, African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, highlighted that unless child labour in all its forms is tackled, a prosperous Africa will never be realised, as children are the hopes for Africa’s future.

“The move to implement the Ten Year Plan provides a big push toward eradicating child labour as it establishes a clear legal framework. The AU is committed to accelerating the achievement of Agenda 2063 and SDG 8.7 in line with its legal instruments, and to using its mandate to drive greater coordination of implementation efforts across the continent,” he said.

Time to take action

The International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, declared by the UN General Assembly, is an historic opportunity to reaffirm commitments, take action and inspire broad partnerships to preserve the progress made on child labour and related issues such as social justice, inclusion and the reduction of inequalities.

At the start of the International Year, FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to step-up efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work.

This year, FAO will organize a series of regional consultations and a global event on eliminating child labour in agriculture to increase awareness and promote good practices. FAO also continues to play a central role in planning for the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture, which was established by FAO and the ILO with other organizations in 2007.