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Unlocking Global Solutions against Child Labour

“Nothing is as brutal as the death of a child’s dream,” Kailash Satyarthi said of the impact of child labour, during the FAO's Global Solutions Forum, an online event spotlighting positive practices to fight child labour in agriculture. Child labour is a serious violation of children's human rights. However, it is also a symptom of many deep root causes, including poverty and lack of access to education and basic services. Sustainable development is not possible when there are still 160 million children in child labour around the world -- 70% of them in agriculture (ILO/UNICEF 2020 Estimates).

To achieve Zero Hunger, we need Zero Child Labour Following the 2021 World Food Summit, the FAO reiterates how important addressing child labour is to ensuring the rights of farmers and achieving SDG2 with strong, sustainable food systems. "Child labour is a serious violation of human rights, yet many vulnerable families worldwide have no choice but to engage their children in work that may be hazardous or prevent them from going to school, as a survival strategy. If the world is to end child labour, a strong new momentum and concerted action are required to alleviate poverty and hunger and transform our food systems."

Accelerating solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa is key to ending child labour Though child labour is found in every region of the world, this abuse is the most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa -- and it is on the rise. With so many countries in the region depending on agriculture as a backbone of their economies, this is a large and urgent challenge.

The Global Solutions Forum was a platform to discuss the realities faced by children and the Sub-Saharan African context, outlined in this paper, "Over the past years, the African continent, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, has increasingly experienced political instability, high levels of inequality, climate shocks, forced migration and conflict, which, coupled with structural impediments, contribute to poverty and hunger. This situation has pushed more children into child labour, which is often hazardous in nature, to support their families at the expense of their wholesome development."

Several areas for policies, programmes and investments were identified, including:

  • A collaborative approach to developing and implementing national and regional policies to address child labour and build stronger agro-food systems
  • Investment and action to bring technology, safe agricultural practices and skills training for agricultural workers in the region, especially young workers.
  • Good business practices, focused on transparency and traceability throughout agricultural supply chains, with strong child labour monitoring and remediation systems.

More Reading and Resources:

Act now to stamp out child labour by 2025: FAO chief

Accelerating action to help to end child labour in agriculture in Africa

Ending child labour by 2025 requires effective action and strong leadership

FAO framework on ending child labour in agriculture