By Justina Auta
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), Federal Government and other stakeholders are collaborating to eliminate child labour in agriculture and ensure a decent work environment free from exploitation.
Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Liaison Office for ECOWAS disclosed this at a three-day validation workshop on the Action against Child Labour in Agriculture in West Africa (ACLAWA) project in Abuja.
Phala noted the worsening global child labour indices despite efforts to eliminate it, especially in Africa, which she revealed was made worst by the declining global economy.
“Nearly 23 per cent of all children are estimated to be in child labour. Nigeria has its fair share of this figure.
“The agriculture sector accounts for 70 per cent of children in child labour (112 million) followed by 20 per cent in services (31.4 million) and 10 per cent in industry (16.5 million).
“Nearly 28 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 years and 35 per cent of children aged 12 to 14 years in child labour are out of school.
“The prevalence of child labour in rural areas (14 per cent) is close to three times higher than in urban areas (5 per cent),” she said.
She explained that the ACLAWA project, funded by U.S. Department of Labour, aim at supporting ECOWAS commission implement the regional plan for the elimination of child labour.
“ACLAWA intends to address causes of child labour through the provision of social benefits and support the social protection scheme by providing benefits and decent work opportunities to vulnerable households with children in or at high risk of child labour.
“We believe that this strategy is crucial for sustaining the gains made from other child labour elimination interventions,” she said.
Mrs Nkiruka Onyejeocha, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, while commending ILO and others for their supports, said the ACLAWA project was strategic to ending child labour.
Onyejeocha, represented by Mrs Olaitan Olaolu, the Director Inspectorate, said: “We are aware that child labour remains a significant challenge in Nigeria, as it does not only deprive children of their childhood, education, health, and prospects.
“But also undermines the country’s economic development already by the Government of Nigeria.”
Also, Charles Makee, US Government representative on ACLAWA project, said: “It is important that we succeed together in our efforts to address child labour, not only in Nigeria, but in every country around the world.”
Similarly, Blessing Samuel, representing ECOWAS Parliament, noted that child labour can result in extreme body and mental harm, slavery, sexual, economic exploitation, poor access to education, healthcare, and fundamental human rights.
“So, we have a huge task ahead and the onus is on us to come up with a workable action plan that is implementable with the right budgetary allocation, monitoring and evaluation to ensure that we mobilise action against child labour in agriculture in West Africa,” she said.
Dr Agatha Kolawole, the ACLAWA Project Director, said the workshop would enable stakeholders to validate the comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan for the ACLAWA project. (NAN)
Edited by Benson Iziama/Muhammad Suleiman Tola