Skip to page content
Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Bookmark and Share

Sub-Saharan Africa

2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

2012 Regional Outlook

Meaningful efforts:

  • Ratification of international standards, particularly the Palermo Protocol and/or the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of a Child.
  • Increased number and training of labor inspectors.

Challenges and existing gaps:

  • Limited adoption of hazardous work lists across the region.
  • Significant barriers to access to education, including costs, limited numbers of schools, and lack of universal birth registrations.
  • Lack of effective enforcement of child labor laws.
  • Lack of targeted social programs for children in the worst forms of child labor.
  • Continued use of children in armed conflict.

2012 Assessment Breakdown

Region Summary

As a region, Sub-Saharan Africa has the second largest number of child laborers (59 million) in the world, with one in five children a child laborer. The ILO reports that Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions of the world in terms of progress towards the elimination of child labor, with over 28.8 million children ages 5 to 17 engaged in the worst forms of child labor. While the emerging face of Sub-Saharan Africa is one of promise, progress, and stability, there is still much to be done on the continent to address the worst forms of child labor, particularly in dangerous forms of agriculture and domestic service. 

ILO Conventions 138 and 182, as well as the CRC, have been largely ratified in the region. During the reporting period, numerous countries ratified the Palermo Protocol and/or the Optional Protocols to the CRC, including Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. However, 42 percent of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have yet to ratify all of these international standards.  Read More

Further Resources