A Call to Action: Strengthening cross-sectoral collaboration and increasing funding flows for action to end child labour in agriculture
The ECLT Foundation welcomes the convening of the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour from 15th to 20th May 2022 in Durban, South Africa. The Conference, the first to be held on the African continent, occurs against the backdrop of the first increase in child labour, since 2000, which predates the additional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption of supply chains due to the war in Ukraine. These developments threaten to further derail progress made so far, with less than 4 years left for the SDG 8.7 target of 2025.
Globally, 7 in 10 children in child labour work in agriculture. In Africa, the ratio is 8 out of 10.
Moreover, agricultural work on the continent is a major entry point for the youngest children: 60% of children in child labour are in the 5-11 years age group (~52 million), most of them performing unpaid family labour.
To reverse this trend, ECLT Foundation calls upon the international community to support the strengthening of the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture by forming national coalitions in pilot countries to:
a) secure funding flows for action;
b) enhance cross-sectoral collaboration and coordination, sharing of good practices and scaling up of efforts;
c) leverage resources to address the root causes of child labour across agriculture.
Accordingly, ECLT Foundation puts forward the following input into the V Global Conference Outcome Document/ Call to action: ‘’To promote the necessary cooperation and coordinated effort to reverse the regression in child labour in agriculture and to re-establish and accelerate progress towards its elimination by convening, within 12 months, a global meeting of the key actors on child labour in agriculture to establish – under the auspices of the IPCCLA – an inclusive, adequately resourced mechanism for that purpose.’’
Why child labour occurs in agriculture
The recent child labour global estimates by ILO and UNICEF highlight three main reasons for high child labour incidence in agriculture:
a) Functional dependence of family farms on family labour caused by an absence of decent work for adults and inadequate family incomes.
b) Widespread informality in agriculture and inadequate implementation of public policies and regulation.
c) Inadequate and fragmented funding of actions against child labour.
What needs to be done to end child labour in agriculture
The ECLT Foundation, having been involved in the fight against child labour in agriculture in Africa and other regions of the world since 2000, reiterates its vision for a world with thriving agricultural communities, where children are free of child labour. The ECLT Foundation calls for action in three key areas:
- The creation of national coalitions linked to the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture. National coalitions could be piloted in selected Pathfinder countries for the purpose of testing agriculture-wide approaches to eliminate child labour – including in subsectors linked to global, regional, domestic and local supply chains, and to address the needs of families engaged in subsistence farming.
- Call to action for multinational and national enterprises, agricultural boards, producer organizations, commodity associations and traders across agriculture to implement the relevant terms of the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and to ensure full integration of decent work, including the eradication of child labour, into their business activities, including by adopting Good Agricultural Practices, regardless of the destination markets for agricultural produce.
- Strengthening small producers’ organizations, including mobilizing funding to enable them to reduce dependence on family labour, upgrade in different value chains and negotiate for fair prices.