For the first time in 20 years, child labor is increasing in the world and in Africa. This is stated in a report from the ILO, the International Labor Organization and Unicef. At the beginning of 2020, 160 million children were forced to work. 92 million in Africa. All the more must one look at the situation on the continent because the post-covid economic crisis is expected to increase this figure further.
In Africa, almost one in five children work, compared with one in ten on average in the rest of the world. A total of 92 million African children between the ages of 5 and 17 have an activity and can therefore not go to school. We are far from the numbers in the early 2000s and enormous progress has been made, especially in Africa. But the trend is increasing again. Both due to population growth and the economic crisis after covid. Unicef and the ILO expect several million African children at work this year and another 2022.
The sectors most affected are agriculture. 70% of the children who work do so in the fields and 80% of them work with their parents on the family farm. Then comes the mining, quarrying and finally the industrial sector. The difficulties and especially the danger increase. 41 million children in Africa do dangerous work, the ILO estimates.
Current policies are struggling to prove their worth
The policy of restricting child labor introduced by some African countries works, but only partially. For example, Côte d’Ivoire is in its third national plan to combat child labor. If the number of miners on the plantations in fifteen years has decreased from about 1.3 million to only 800,000, there is still a long way to go before the eradication of the plague.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is estimated 40,000 children work in the mines in the eastern part of the country. We hear many politicians condemning the phenomenon. We see Unicef or even the African Development Bank’s funding program. This works, but today they risk being questioned by the rising poverty that drives families to hire the youngest.