Decent Rural Employment

2012 Celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour: FAO initiatives in collaboration with ILO


On the occasion of the 2012 celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour, FAO organized a series of activities both at FAO headquarters and at country level.

FAO headquarters hosted an event on “Effective partnerships for reducing child labour in agriculture” organized in collaboration with the ILO (see agenda).

A new documentary “Reducing child labour through partnership” was presented, which warns that the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 won’t be met without an increased commitment at global level. ILO and FAO gave a joint presentation on the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture, its achievements and lessons learned for the way forward (see presentation).

Finally, a panel discussion was held with FAO managers on the work undertaken by their departments on child labour and what more would have to be done to achieve the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour in agriculture. The discussion highlighted gaps and opportunities for more effective actions, as follows:  

  • INVESTMENT -The huge potential of addressing child labour in agricultural investment programmes was emphasized, together with the need to include the reduction of child labour in agriculture more systematically in country programming. This is in line with FAO’s guidelines for the development of Country Programming Frameworks.
  • ALTERNATIVES - The need for families to have viable alternatives to child labour was also stressed. “Farmers have to understand the harm, and know alternatives” The integration of child labour concerns into the Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) programme through Farmer Field Schools is a first step to tackle the issue while building solutions together with farmers. This needs to be combined with complementary actions such as radio awareness programmes, incentives such as quality education services and school feeding schemes, and support to families’ livelihoods.
  • REGULATION - At the regulatory level, taking child labour into account in instruments such as the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (under revision) and in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention can strength their positive impact on children and their communities.
  • PARTICIPATION - Collaboration and actual buy-in from national and local stakeholders as central for achieving sustainable reductions of child labour was also highlighted. FAO’s networks at country level and expertise in food and agriculture are a competitive advantage for the active involvement of farmer and  fisher organizations, individual farmers and parents.  In the fisheries sector, promotion of responsible fisheries management and endorsement of voluntary guidelines for small-scale fisheries should be ensured.
  • AWARENESS - The importance of understanding the difference between helping out in the family and child labour was again stressed. Many children work with their families, but parents should have two rules for their children: work must not interfere with compulsory schooling, and must not be hazardous. FAO might play a key role in reducing child labour by sensitizing those who decide on whether and how their children work.
  • DATA - Child labour has a huge cost in terms of missed opportunities for agricultural development: an additional working child today is one skilled resource less tomorrow. Such costs should be measured and this information shared; the availability of economic and statistical data could help motivate greater action.
  • POLICY - Positive policy change by the Fisheries Administration of the Cambodian government was featured. The Administration has integrated child labour targets into its 10-year strategic planning framework and the Cambodian code of conduct for responsible fisheries.

In Tanzania ministers and children alike came together to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour 2012. Participants in the event included the Minister of  the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ambassador of Brazil in Tanzania, experts from ministries, FAO and ILO, employers, workers and children from three district of Dar Es Salaam. FAO work in Tanzania on child labor was presented and a graphic flyer - showing the virtuous circle leading from child labour in agriculture to more resilient livelihoods - was distributed. Finally a panel discussion on CL issues was held. The panelists also agreed to meet next year for a joint review of the goals achieved.

In Mali a special session for FAO staff was held on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour, with the overall aim to present the activities of the Partnership in Mali and discuss how to better integrate child labour issues in FAO programmes design, implementation and monitoring. Farmer Field Schools were identified as a good entry point to raise awareness of producers and recommendations were made to expand the FAO-ILO supported training on reducing child labour in agriculture, focused on occupational health and safety, pesticides and ploughing. Also in the framework of the WDACL and to complement said training activity, a radio programme was developed on these themes in partnership with the producers’ organization OREMAP.