2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
In 2013, Ghana made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The National Program for the Elimination of Child Labor in Cocoa (NPECLC) released the results and analysis of the pilot of the Ghana Child Labor Monitoring System (GCLMS). The Ghana Police Service's Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) increased the number of investigators it employs and opened its tenth regional office. Ghana became the first country to have its efforts against the worst forms of child labor peer reviewed by ECOWAS. However, children in Ghana continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor in agriculture, including in cocoa, and in fishing. Enforcement of legal protections against the worst forms of child labor is severely limited due to resource constraints, and social programs do not cover all of the sectors in which children work.
Children in Ghana are engaged in the worst forms of child labor in agriculture, including in cocoa, and in fishing.(1-3) In the cocoa sector alone, according to a report by Tulane University that assessed data collected during the 2008-2009 harvest season, 997,357 children ages 5 to 17 were estimated to be working, and 54 percent, or 538,297 of these children, were estimated to be reporting injuries from dangerous activities.(3, 4) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Ghana.
|Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population):||43.5 (2,731,596)|
|School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):||83.1|
|Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%):||39.8|
|Primary completion rate (%):||98.5|
Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2013, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (5)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from MICS3 Survey, 2006. (6)
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.
|Agriculture||Land clearing,†using machetes†and harvesting hooks,†working in the vicinity of pesticide spraying,†and carrying heavy loads†in the production of cocoa (3, 4, 7)|
|Herding livestock* (8, 9)|
|Fishing for tilapia, and to a lesser extent for mudfish,* silverfish,* catfish,* and electric fish,* including producing bait, nets, and fishing gear; launching,†paddling,†and draining canoes;†casting†and pulling†fishing nets and untangling†them underwater; sorting, picking, cleaning, and smoking†fish; and cleaning and repairing nets and boats (1, 2, 9, 10)|
|Industry||Quarrying and small-scale mining, sometimes for gold, including using mercury*†digging,†excavating,†and working in pits†(1, 9, 11, 12)|
|Services||Domestic service (1, 9, 13, 14)|
|Transporting heavy loads as porters or kayayes (mainly girls who perform head porterage) (1, 9, 15-17)|
|Running errands and cooking for fishermen and transporting and selling fish (2, 9)|
|Street hawking (1, 9)|
|Street begging†(1, 9)|
|Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡||Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1, 12)|
|Forced begging and forced work in agriculture, artisanal gold mining,* domestic service, portering, and street vending (12)|
|Fishing, including fishing for tilapia, as a result of human trafficking (2, 18-20)|
|Trokosi , a form of forced ritual service for girls (1, 15, 21)|
*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
†Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.
Some girls in the Greater Accra and Volta regions are involved in trokosi, a form of ritual servitude that can last from a few months to several years.(15, 21) Girls are sent by their families to local shrines to atone for their family members' sins.(1, 15, 21) They perform tasks such as fetching water, maintaining the shrines, and working on the priest's land. Their basic needs often go unmet, and they frequently suffer sexual and physical abuse.(21)
Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, including in the fishing sector.(22) Girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, particularly in the Volta region and oil-rich Western regions.(12) Ghanaian children are trafficked to neighboring countries in West Africa for labor exploitation.(22, 23)
Despite the requirement for free education in Ghana, families are often required to purchase uniforms and school materials. Children without uniforms may be turned away from school.(8, 24) Access to education is also hindered by a shortage of classrooms and by schools without sufficient teachers or materials. For some children, attending school is practically impossible, as their villages are located many miles away from the nearest school and there is no form of public transportation.(25-28) Although a birth certificate is not a legal requirement to enter school, it is reported that some children who do not have them are denied access to school; births in Ghana are not always registered with the government.(8) Some children, especially girls, are reported to be sexually assaulted and harassed by teachers.(8)
Ghana has ratified most key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).
|ILO C. 138, Minimum Age||✅|
|ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor||✅|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography|
|Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons||✅|
The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).
|Minimum Age for Work||Yes||15||Section 89 of the Children's Act 1998 (29)|
|Minimum Age for Hazardous Work||Yes||18||Section 91 of the Children's Act 1998 (29)|
|List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children||Yes||Hazardous Child Labor Activity Framework for Ghana; Hazardous Child Labor Activity Framework for the Cocoa Sector 2008; Section 91 of the Children's Act 1998 (7,9, 29)|
|Prohibition of Forced Labor||Yes||Article 16(2)of the Constitution 1992 (30)|
|Prohibition of Child Trafficking||Yes||Sections 1-2 of the Human Trafficking Act 2005 (Act 694) (31)|
|Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children||Yes||Sections 107-108 of the Criminal Code of 1960 (Act 29) (32)|
|Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities||Yes||Criminal Code of 1960 (Act 29) (32)|
|Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment||N/A*|
|Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service||Yes||17.5||Armed Forces Regulations (Administration) Volume I (33)|
|Compulsory Education Age||Yes||15||Article 2(2) of the Education Act of 2008 (34)|
|Free Public Education||Yes||Article 2(2) of the Education Act of 2008 (34)|
*No conscription or no standing military.
Section 107 of the Criminal Code stipulates that it is illegal to procure any person younger than age 21 for prostitution, as long as that person is not a prostitute or of known immoral character. This provision is unclear and makes criminal punishment dependent on a judgment of the child's or adult's moral standing, which may leave some child victims of commercial sexual exploitation unprotected.(32) As such, the Criminal Code contradicts the Children's Act, which states that courts and other institutions must give primary consideration to the best interest of the child in any matter concerned with a child.(29)
The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).
|Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations (MELR)||Enforce all labor laws. Inspectors can enter any type of workplace.(1, 35) National Program for the Elimination of Child Labor in Cocoa (NPECLC), housed within MELR, implements Ghana Child Labor Monitoring System (GCLMS). (36)|
|District Assembly and the District Social Welfare Officer||Investigate child labor violations in the informal sector and report findings to police.(27)|
|Ghana Police Service (GPS)||Make arrests and conduct investigations related to forced child labor, child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and illicit activities. Enforce anti-trafficking laws through the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Criminal Investigation Division.(1) AHTUs also exist at the regional level.(1) Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit refers cases of trafficking to AHTU.(37, 38)|
|Office of the Attorney General||Prosecute child labor and child trafficking crimes.(1)|
Law enforcement agencies in Ghana took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.
Labor Law Enforcement
In 2013, the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations (MELR) had 94 labor inspectors responsible for the enforcement of all labor laws in the country, a decrease from the 130 labor inspectors employed in 2012.(1, 38) Community Child Protection Committees (CCPC) operated in over 600 communities in Ghana to monitor, prevent, and withdraw children from the worst forms of child labor in cocoa as well as other sectors. These committees report cases to the Ghana Police Service (GPS), the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection's (MGCSP) Department of Social Welfare, or traditional authorities, depending on availability.(1) The MELR's Child Labor Unit (CLU) reported that during the reporting period the Inspectorate Divisions of the MELR did not receive funding, and inspectors do not have sufficient facilities and transportation to conduct inspections.(1)
With support from the ILO, the MELR conducted a 3-day child labor training for 35 labor inspectors that included discussion of Ghana's child labor legal framework, as well as best practices for labor inspection.(1) The CLU reports that child labor training opportunities are insufficient for the number of inspectors and scope of the problem.(1)
Information on the number of inspections, child labor violations found, and penalties imposed during the reporting period is unavailable.(1)
Criminal Law Enforcement
In 2013, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) opened a regional office in the Northern Region and is now present in each of the ten regions of Ghana.(1) During the year, the AHTU employed 58 investigators to enforce laws against trafficking, an increase from the 54 investigators employed in 2012. Four investigators were located in each of the nine regional units, with 22 located in Accra.(1) However, the AHTU operated using only donor funding because the government did not allocate funds to the unit during the year.(1, 12) The modest increase in the number of investigators is not sufficient to allow the AHTU to fulfill its mandate.(1) Information on the number of officials employed by the GPS to investigate other worst forms of child labor is unavailable.
Thirty AHTU officers took part in a one-week anti-trafficking training through an ILO partnership with the CLU and Ghana's Financial Intelligence Center (FIC). Two AHTU officers also received training from the FIC on the links between financial crimes and human trafficking.(1) Training does not appear to have been provided to all investigators. CCPCs, traditional leaders, and children have been educated on child trafficking issues to enable them to identify and report trafficking victims to the District Department of Social Welfare for its collaboration and follow-up with the GPS.(1)
The Office of the Attorney General is responsible for prosecuting criminal offenses related to the worst forms of child labor, including human trafficking; prosecutions are usually handled by the GPS prosecutors.(1) The AHTU reported 140 new investigations and 23 prosecutions of trafficking cases, although the number of cases that involved children is not available.(33) Comprehensive information on the number of criminal investigations, prosecutions, and convictions related to the worst forms of child labor is unavailable, since a centralized database is not maintained.
The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).
|Coordinating Body||Role & Description|
|National Steering Committee on Child Labor (NSCCL)||Oversee coordination, implementation, and monitoring of National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor 2009-2015 (NPA) and programs targeting worst forms of child labor. Chaired by MELR, and MELR's Child Labor Unit (CLU) is its Secretariat.(1, 38, 41) Members include ministries, labor unions, NGOs, Ghana Cocoa Board, and international organizations. Comprises three subcommittees: Policy Advisory, Education, and Skills Training; Advocacy, Social Mobilization, and Child Labor Monitoring; and Cocoa, Fisheries, and Mining and Quarrying.(38, 41)|
|National Partners Forum (NPF)||Discuss interventions to address worst forms of child labor in cocoa sector. Convened by NPECLC and comprises district assemblies, NGOs, trade unions, and civil society organizations.(1, 38)|
|Human Trafficking Management Board (HTMB)||Advise the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MGCSP) on trafficking policy and promote prevention and rehabilitation strategies. Intersectoral board chaired by Minister and includes police, immigration, local government, Ministries of Health and Education, and a parliamentarian, among others.(12) MGCSP's Human Trafficking Secretariat convenes quarterly meetings of the HTMB.(12)|
During the reporting period, the National Steering Committee on Child Labor (NSCCL) met four times. The NSCCL coordinated information sharing between government agencies and social partners, reviewed and endorsed project proposals, and supported the pilot of the Ghana Child Labor Monitoring System (GCLMS). (1, 38, 42, 43)
The National Program for the Elimination of Child Labor in Cocoa (NPECLC) held the National Partners Forum (NPF) only once during the reporting period, citing that funding constraints prohibited additional meetings. The Human Trafficking Management Board (HTMB) did not meet in 2013, also citing insufficient funding as well as an outstanding request submitted to the Office of the President to rebuild the board.(1)
The Government of Ghana has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).
|National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2009-2015)||Provides a comprehensive framework to significantly reduce worst forms of child labor by 2015.(1, 16, 27, 38) Coordinates various interventions to combat child labor. MOUs exist with 23 government agencies to establish the role of each agency in the fight to reduce worst forms of child labor.(44)|
|ECOWAS Regional Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labor, Especially the Worst Forms||With 15 ECOWAS countries, implements a regional action plan on child labor, especially its worst forms. Aims to eliminate worst forms of child labor in West Africa by 2015 and to continue progress toward the total elimination of child labor.(45) During 2013, Ghana volunteered to be first country to have its efforts against worst forms of child labor peer reviewed under the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan. MELR's CLU completed a self-assessment of Ghana's performance, and an external review was conducted by reviewers from Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria, along with an ECOWAS consultant.(1, 46-48) The ECOWAS peer review report highlighted the need for enhanced support from MELR and coordination among all partners, increased funding beyond cocoa sector, and establishment of clear sanctions for those who violate law. The assessment recommended estimating the cost of implementing the NPA, increasing services for children, and conducting additional local research.(1, 46, 48)|
|2010 Declaration of Joint Action to Support the Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol (2010 Declaration) and its accompanying Framework of Action||In cooperation with the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and the United States and the International Cocoa and Chocolate Industry, provides resources and coordinates with key stakeholders on efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor in cocoa-producing areas.(49, 50) Takes steps to ensure that all project efforts implemented under the Declaration and Framework align with its national action plans in order to promote coherence and sustainability.(49-51)|
|Ministry of Food and Agriculture's Agriculture Extension Services Child Labor Strategic Plan†||Addresses ways to combat child labor in agriculture.(52)|
|Ghana's UN Development Assistance Framework (2012-2016)||Includes child labor in its National Development Priority for Human Development, Productivity, and Employment.(53)|
|Ghana's Medium-Term National Development Framework: Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2010-2013)||Incorporates the NPA and includes child labor as an issue in its Child Protection and Development focus area.(1, 54)|
|Education Strategic Plan (2003-2015)*||Includes a focus on alternative education for children who are out of school, hard to reach, or in urban slums.(26)|
*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
†Policy was launched during the reporting period.
In 2013, the Government of Ghana funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).
|GCLMS‡||MELR program that enables communities to monitor, report on, and coordinate services for children in exploitative labor.(4, 42, 55, 56) Operates through Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) that are active in more than 600 communities nationwide.(1, 36) In 2013, NPECLC held a meeting of partners in Accra to release and discuss the report of the 25-community pilot of GCLMS.(1)|
|Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS (ECOWAS I)||USDOL-funded, $7.95 million, 5-year project implemented by the ILO with direct interventions to accelerate progress on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. Supports ECOWAS to strengthen its role in combating the worst forms of child labor in the West Africa sub-region by providing policy and capacity building support for all ECOWAS states.(57) By the end of March 2014, the project had withdrawn or prevented 5,536 children from the worst forms of child labor in fishing, mining, and agricultural production in Ghana and provided livelihoods services to 440 Ghanaian households. Helped establish CCPCs in 120 communities in the country.(58, 59)|
|Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS (ECOWAS II)||Linked to the ECOWAS I project, a $5 million, USDOL-funded, 4-year project, implemented by the ILO with direct interventions in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. Supports ECOWAS to strengthen its role in combating the worst forms of child labor in the West Africa sub-region by providing policy and capacity building support for all ECOWAS states.(60) In Ghana, the project worked with the government to support the initial stages of implementation of GCLMS in 20 communities. By the end of March 2014, the project had also provided education services to 1,009 children and livelihoods services to 1,124 households in Ghana.(61)|
|Towards Child Labor Free Cocoa Growing Communities in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana through an Integrated Area Based Approach (CCP)||USDOL-funded, $10 million, 4-year project, implemented by the ILO. In support of the 2010 Declaration, aims to reduce the worst forms of child labor in cocoa-producing areas in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana by providing direct services to communities.(28, 49) In Ghana, aims to rescue more than 2,500 children and provide livelihood assistance to at least 1,000 households.(28) Works with Government to support a child labor monitoring system in cocoa growing areas.(28) By the end of March 2014, the project had provided educational service to 2,862 children and livelihood services to 1,145 households in Ghana.(62)|
|Survey on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas||USDOL-funded, $1.5 million, 3-year research project, implemented by the Payson Center at Tulane University. Supports the collection of nationally representative survey data on child labor in cocoa-growing areas of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.(63) Will help assess the prevalence of the worst forms of child labor in cocoa-growing areas. As called for in the 2010 Declaration, the study developed a baseline estimate of the number of children working in the worst forms of child labor in cocoa-growing areas.(49, 63) In Ghana, the project began a nationally representative survey in the cocoa sector during the 2013-2014 harvest season.(64) Coordinates with the government and works with government statistical experts to build the country's capacity to implement future child labor surveys.(51)|
|Industry-funded Projects in Support of the 2010 Declaration||Projects in Ghana's cocoa-growing areas funded by Mars, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Mondelez International, and the former Global Issues Group.(49, 50, 63) Projects aim to reduce the prevalence of child labor, including by improving children's access to education and increasing household incomes. Funding provided by the cocoa industry in Ghana is as follows: Ferrero, $1.14 million; Hershey, $600,000; and Mondelez International, $1.54 million.(63) The Global Issues Group provided$2.25 million for a project that is being implemented in both Ghana in Côte d'Ivoire.(63)|
|Follow-up to the resolution on child labour statistics adopted at the 18th International Conference of Labor Statisticians (ICLS) through methodological development and expansion of child labour data collection||$3 million, USDOL-funded, 4-year project, implemented by the ILO. Included a sub-survey on child labor within the Ghana Statistical Service's Ghana Living Standards Survey.(65) Results were not available during reporting period.(1, 65)|
|Human Trafficking Fund‡||Overseen by the HTMB, aims to provide financial support to trafficking victims, including children.(1)|
|Ghana Police Service(GPS)‡||Maintains an all-hours phone line for reporting crimes, including trafficking of children.(1)|
|Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP)*‡||Government conditional cash transfer program that makes monetary grants to households, some of which are conditioned upon children attending school and not engaging in child labor. Aims to reach 300,000 households by 2015.(1) Program had reached 76,000 households in 100 districts by the end of 2013, an 8,000 household increase from 2012.(1)|
|Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions Project (ECHOES)*||Implemented by World Education and Winrock and funded by the World Cocoa Foundation, USAID, and the International Chocolate and Cocoa Industry, project strengthens cocoa-growing communities by expanding education for youth and young adults; strengthening community based organizations; and improving household livelihoods.(66)|
|Provision of school supplies*‡||Government program to provide uniforms and books to children in public primary schools in some deprived communities.(1, 38, 67)|
|Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP)*‡||Government program, ongoing since 2005, that aims to increase school quality and attendance and reduce malnutrition among school-going children in selected schools.(1)|
|National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)*‡||Government program that waives insurance premiums for children under 18, requiring a minimal registration fee.|
|Capitation Grant Scheme (CGS)*‡||Government grants that provides public primary schools in targeted districts with grants to defray costs of school fees for students.(1)|
*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of Ghana.
NPECLC's pilot of the GCLMS was carried out in 25 communities. NPECLC had originally planned to reach 60 communities, but logistical and funding challenges led to a reduction in the number of communities reached and inhibited NPECLC's ability to complete all activities planned for 2013.(1) A key goal of the GCLMS is to use data on child labor to direct social services to affected children.(63)
Although the Government has worked closely with industry, NGOs, and international organizations to implement child labor programs in cocoa, fishing, and mining, the scope of these programs remains insufficient to address the scope of the problem. Research found no evidence of programs to assist kayayes or children involved in commercial sexual exploitation, domestic service, or forced labor.
Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Ghana (Table 9).
Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms