Over 70% of Child Labour – 108 Million Children Worldwide – Found in Agricultural Sectors, Including Fisheries Aquaculture, Forestry, Livestock, and Crop Farming

ROME, 12 June 2020 (FAO)* – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) marked World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June 2020 by stressing the critical need to step up efforts to prevent a spike in child labour in agriculture due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptive global impact on livelihoods, education, food and health systems.
Photo: ©FAOAlbert Gonzalez FarranYoung cattle keeper Kuoi Malak and his sister guide their calfs in a cattle camp in Lulwuot, Yirol, South Sudan.

This year’s observance focused on exploring child labour mitigation measures through livelihood and food assistance, social protection, health and education programmes which can help protect children from bearing the brunt of the pandemic impacts.

FAO together with its partners promotes such initiatives as part of its efforts to help ensure decent employment conditions in the agricultural sectors.

Even before the pandemic, more than 70 percent of child labour – 108 million boys and girls worldwide were found in the agricultural sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, livestock, and crop farming.

COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate this situation and push more children out of school and into child labour. At least 320 million children have no access to school meals anymore since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.

Due to school closures and the economic difficulties faced by households because of the pandemic, children may be put to work in conditions that are harmful and unacceptable.

To raise awareness of the possible implications, and build momentum in view of International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour – 2021, FAO in collaboration with the International Partnership for Cooperation on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture (IPCCLA) produced a discussion titled “Meant to (l)earn” on preventing and reducing child labour in agriculture in times of COVID-19 and beyond.

The debate among others features Oscar-nominee Nadine Labaki, the multi-award winning Lebanese director, actress and activist, and Molly Namirembe, a former child labourer from Uganda, and is hosted by the France 24 journalist/presenter Valériane Gauthier.

A video recording can be viewed here.

On the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu recorded a video message for a high-level virtual debate “COVID-19 and Child Labour: Looking forward in times of crisis”, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Watch the event here.

FAO Framework on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture

To mark the Day, FAO also launched a new Framework on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture to guide the Organization and its personnel in integrating measures addressing child labour within FAO programmes at the global, regional and country levels.

It will also help country offices in liaising with FAO stakeholders, such as agricultural line ministries, and other relevant ministries and partners, raising their awareness on the links between child labour and FAO’s areas of work.

Watch the FAO Director-General’s message on the Framework here.

FAO’s work on preventing/reducing child labour

FAO has continuously increased efforts in reducing child labour in agriculture by implementing diverse country programmes and supporting governments in developing and  implementing agricultural policies and programmes addressing child labour in agriculture.

For example, in Uganda, since 2016, FAO has been working on strengthening the capacities of agriculture and labour stakeholders on addressing child labour in agriculture. This includes regional trainings with extension agents and labour inspectors and a nationwide campaign on raising awareness on hazardous child labour.

In Pakistan, FAO in collaboration with ILO and the EU is generating knowledge, building capacity and providing alternative income generating activities in cotton growing communities. FAO also supports the development of a Farmer Field School module on addressing child labour and hazardous work.

In addition, FAO takes specific action on preventing children’s exposure to hazardous pesticides. For example, in Mali, the UN agency trained farmer field school facilitators and agricultural extension workers to raise awareness on hazardous child labour and developed a visual facilitation guide on protecting children from pesticides, available in different languages and adapted for different regions.

In Niger, FAO supported the Ministry of Agriculture to include child protection and child labour prevention in its training manual for crop protection agents – those in charge of applying pesticides in the fields.

FAO has also developed together with ILO a series of  E-Learning courses on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture.  Find out more about FAO’s work on helping to end child labour in agriculture.


2020 Human Wrongs Watch


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