2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
In 2013, Niger made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government rescued more than 400 children from street begging, secured five child-trafficking convictions, and increased the budget for each regional labor inspectorate from $6,000 to $12,000. The Government also participated in several programs to combat the worst forms of child labor and assist vulnerable households. However, children in Niger continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in mining. Gaps in legislation also put children at risk, and child labor laws are not fully enforced.
Children in Niger continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in mining.(1) Data from the 2009 National Child Labor Survey indicate that more than 30 percent of children ages 5 to 17 are engaged in hazardous work. Data also revealed that child labor is more prevalent in rural areas and among girls.(2) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Niger.
|Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population):||47.8 (1,561,570)|
|Working children by sector, ages 5 to 14 (%)|
|School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):||51.7|
|Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%):||26.3|
|Primary completion rate (%):||49.3|
Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2012, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (3)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from National Survey of Child Labor (Enquete Nationale sur le Travail des Enfants), 2009. (4)
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.
|Agriculture||Production of pepper* and rice* (5)|
|Herding of cattle* and goats* (5)|
|Fishing,* activities unknown (1)|
|Industry||Mining†for trona, salt, gypsum, natron,* and gold (1, 6-10)|
|Quarrying,†including crushing rocks* (1)|
|Mechanical repair,* welding,* and metal work* (1)|
|Work in construction*† (2)|
|Work in tanneries* (1)|
|Work in slaughterhouses* (1)|
|Services||Street work, including vending* (1, 2, 6)|
|Domestic service (1, 2)|
|Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡||Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (8, 11)|
|Caste-based servitude, including as cattle herders,* agricultural workers, and domestic servants (12)|
|Forced begging (8, 11, 13)|
|Domestic service and mining, sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (11)|
*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.
Traditional forms of caste-based servitude, such as the use of women and girls as wahaya, still exist in parts of Niger, especially among the Tuareg, Djerma, and Arab ethnic minorities; in remote northern and western regions; and along the border with Nigeria.(8, 12) The wahaya practiceallows a man to take a girl as a "fifth wife," meaning as a slave (according to Islamic practices, men are allowed to have only four wives). (12, 14) Wahaya slaves, including children, are typically forced to work long hours as cattle herders, agricultural workers, or domestic servants, and are often sexually exploited.(12, 15) Children of wahaya wives are considered slaves as well and passed from one owner to another as gifts or as part of dowries. Both wives and children are often forced to perform domestic labor in their master's household.(12, 14)
In Niger, it is also a traditional practice to send boys (called talibés) to Koranic teachers (marabouts) to receive education.(1, 16) However, some of these boys are forced by their teachers to beg on the streets and surrender the money they have earned, or perform manual labor.(1, 8)
In 2013, more than 4 million people were food insecure in Niger, and severe flooding affected the livelihoods of many communities.(17, 18) The ongoing conflict in Mali and insecurity in northeastern Nigeria has also resulted in thousands of refugees in Niger.(17) Refugee children may have difficulty accessing education, which could put them at increased risk of engaging in the worst forms of child labor.
Niger has ratified all 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||14||Article 106 of the Labor Code (19)|
|Minimum Age for Hazardous Work||Yes||16||Decree No. 67-126/MFP/T (1, 20)|
|List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children||Yes||Decree No. 67-126/MFP/T (21)|
|Prohibition of Forced Labor||Yes||Article 14 of the Constitution; Article 4 of the Labor Code; Article 270 of the Penal Code (19,22, 23)|
|Prohibition of Child Trafficking||Yes||Article 107 of the Labor Code; Article 10 of the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons (19, 24)|
|Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children||Yes||Article 107 of the Labor Code; Article 291-292 of the Penal Code (19, 22)|
|Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities||Yes||Article 107 of the Labor Code (19)|
|Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment||N/A*|
|Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service||Yes||18||Article 107 of the Labor Code (19)|
|Compulsory Education Age||Yes||18||Article 2 of the Law on the Orientation of the Educational System in Niger (25)|
|Free Public Education||Yes||Article 23 of the Constitution (23)|
*No conscription or no standing military.
In Niger, the minimum age for hazardous work does not meet the international standard of 18.(1, 20) Penalties outlined in article 181 of the Penal Code for inciting a person to beg are low and may not deter violations.(22) Article 178 of the Penal Code also provides penalties for vagrancy, which is defined by article 177 as a person without a home or occupation. This law may compel children who live on the streets to engage in the worst forms of child labor.(22, 26)
In 2013, the Government revised the Labor Code; however, it has yet to be approved.(1) In addition, though primary education is free, the cost of school supplies keeps some children from attending school.(8)
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, Labor and Social Security (MELSS)||Enforce laws related to child labor by receiving complaints, investigating violations, and referring cases to courts.(1)|
|MELSS' Child Labor Division||Conduct studies on the scope and nature of child labor, raise awareness on child labor, and coordinate government efforts to eliminate child labor.(1)|
|National Human Rights Commission (CNDH)||Receive child labor complaints, investigate violations, and report violations to courts.(1)|
|Ministry of Population, Women's Promotion and Child Protection||Work with law enforcement officials to provide vulnerable children with services, including education and counseling, in 13 centers across the country.(1)|
|Ministry of Justice's Judicial Police Sections||Oversee cases involving juveniles at regional and district levels.(1)|
|District and Magistrate Courts||Address children's issues, including child labor, through 10 district courts and 36 magistrate courts.(1)|
|Regional and Vigilance Committees||Prevent child trafficking, dismantle trafficking rings, and raise awareness on the worst forms of child labor. In the case of vigilance committees, which work in 30 localities, report to the police suspected cases of illegal transport of minors.(1)|
Law enforcement agencies in Niger took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.
Labor Law Enforcement
In 2013, the Ministry of Employment, Labor and Social Security (MELSS) employed 100 labor inspectors throughout Niger to enforce labor laws, including those related to child labor.(1) Niger has a labor inspectorate in each of the country's eight regions. Inspectors conduct both routine and complaint-based inspections, occasionally referring children rescued from the worst forms of child labor to government social services.(1) During the reporting period, labor inspectors received training on child labor and the budget for each labor inspectorate was doubled from $6,000 to $12,000.(1) However, the Government reports it lacked the human and material resources needed to carry out inspections.(27) Research could not identify the number of inspections, complaints, citations issued, prosecutions, and penalties assessed related to child labor.(1)
Criminal Law Enforcement
In 2013, five individuals were convicted of child trafficking and NGOs, with the support of law enforcement, rescued 445 children exploited as street beggars by marabouts. There is no information as to whether the marabouts were prosecuted.(1) Ministry of Justice officials also received training on legislation related to slavery in January 2013.(28) Despite these efforts, both the MELSS and the Ministry of Justice indicated that the number of convictions related to the worst forms of child labor were inadequate given the magnitude of the problem.(1) Research could not find statistics on the criminal enforcement of laws related to the worst forms of child labor.(1)
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||Review proposals for action plans for the ILO-IPEC country program and ensure that they are consistent with national child labor policy and priorities.(1)|
|National Commission to Coordinate Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons (CNCLTP)||Coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking and develop policies and programs related to human trafficking.(1, 24, 26) Composed of five executive board members and 19 other members, including government ministries, CNDH, civil society organizations, women's rights groups, labor unions, judges, bar associations, and two foreign donor representatives, who act as observers.(1)|
|National Agency to Fight Against Trafficking in Persons (ANLTP)||Implement policies and programs developed by the CNCLTP; conduct awareness campaigns on human trafficking in conjunction with the CNCLTP; provide training and education to reduce the risk of human trafficking; and maintain a hotline to receive complaints of human trafficking.(1, 26)|
|National Committee to Combat the Phenomenon of Street Children||Coordinate activities to combat the phenomenon of street children. Located under the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Child Protection.(10)|
|National Committee to Combat the Vestiges of Forced Labor and Discrimination||Establish a national action plan to combat the vestiges of forced labor and discrimination.(29)|
In 2013, the President of the National Commission to Coordinate Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons (CNCLTP) was reassigned to a new position, which led to a temporary shutdown of CNCLTP and the National Agency to Fight Against Trafficking in Persons (ANLTP) for months. This limited the CNCLTP and ANLTP's capacity to effectively coordinate activities related to the worst forms of child labor.(1, 30) Despite the shutdown, NGOs, the CNCLTP, and the police helped more than 800 vulnerable children .(1) The National Committee to Combat the Vestiges of Forced Labor and Discrimination did not meet during the reporting period due to a lack of resources.(28) The number of calls received by the ANLTP's hotline that involve child trafficking is unknown.
The Government of Niger has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).
|National Action Plan to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Children||Seeks to combat the sexual exploitation of children.(1)|
|Decent Work Country Program (2012-2015)||Describes the child labor situation in Niger and includes targets for the elimination of child labor.(21, 31)|
|National Education Development Plan*||Supports education for vulnerable children and includes child labor issues.(1)|
|Social and Economic Development Plan (2012-2015)||Describes Niger's overall development agenda, aims to prevent the worst forms of child labor, and calls for the adoption of the Nation Action Plan to Combat Child Labor.(32)|
|UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) (2009-2013)||Promotes improved access to education for vulnerable children and aims to build the capacity of the government to address child labor.(33) The new UNDAF program will operate from 2014 to 2018.(34)|
*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
The National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor (2010-2015) aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in Niger by 2015, and all forms of child labor by 2025. It also addresses child labor in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, mining, domestic labor, and begging.(10) However, the Plan has yet to be adopted.(1, 10) The Government also drafted, but did not adopt, a National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons.(10, 26)
In 2013, the Government of Niger participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).
|Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS I and II||USDOL-funded regional projects that supported 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.(35, 36)|
|Project to Combat Child Labor in Domestic Service||Government of France-funded, 3-year regional project to combat child labor in domestic service.(37)|
|UN World Food Program*||UN program that supports cash-for-work schemes and other initiatives to address food insecurity. More than 600,000 beneficiaries have received assistance in Niger.(38)|
|Niger Safety Net Project*||World Bank cash transfer and cash-for-work project that aims to establish a safety net system for vulnerable households. Targets more than 1 million beneficiaries; 60,000 beneficiaries receive cash for work benefits.(39)|
|Second Chance Community Literacy Education and Vocational Training Program*||Government program, in collaboration with Volunteers for Education Integration, (a local NGO) that provides vulnerable children with literacy education and vocational training opportunities.(1)|
|Resilience in the Sahel-Enhanced*||USAID program that helps vulnerable communities in Niger and Burkina Faso mitigate vulnerabilities, shocks, and stresses by facilitating inclusive growth.(40) Aims to reach 1.9 million beneficiaries.(41)|
|Migration Forum*||Government forum, with support from the ILO-IPEC and a local NGO, that combats youth rural to urban migration, especially among girls.(1)|
|Regional Program for West Africa||UNODC program that covers 15 countries and addresses human trafficking by supporting the ECOWAS Political Declaration on the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking, and Organized Crimes in West Africa.(42)|
*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
Although Niger has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the problem. Niger also lacks a specific program to assist children exploited by religious instructors.(16)
Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Niger (Table 9).
|Area||Suggested Action||Year(s) Suggested|
|Laws||Raise the minimum age for hazardous work to 18.||2009 - 2013|
|Amend the Penal Code to provide for higher penalties for inciting people to beg and to ensure that street children are not compelled to engage in the worst forms of child labor.||2009 - 2013|
|Adopt the new Labor Code.||2013|
|Enforcement||Increase resources to conduct labor inspections.||2009 - 2013|
|Make efforts to increase the number of convictions related to the worst forms of child labor.||2010 - 2013|
|Gather and publish information about the number of labor inspections, complaints, child labor law violations found, citations, criminal prosecutions initiated and issued, and the penalties applied.||2012 - 2013|
|Coordination||Ensure that the CNLTP, ANLTP, and National Committee to Combat the Vestiges of Forced Labor and Discrimination have adequate personnel and resources to effectively coordinate activities related to the worst forms of child labor.||2011 - 2013|
|Disaggregate complaints made to the ANLTP's hotline by the number of children trafficked.||2013|
|Government Policies||Adopt and implement the National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor and the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons.||2009 - 2013|
|Assess the impact that existing policies may have on addressing child labor.||2013|
|Social Programs||Conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working in fishing to inform policies and programs.||2013|
|Ensure that children can complete primary school by subsidizing or defraying the cost of school supplies.||2013|
|Ensure that all children have access to education, including refugees, and implement a program to address food insecurity.||2013|
|Implement a program to target children exploited by religious instructors.||2011 - 2013|
|Assess the impact that existing social programs may have on addressing child labor.||2011 - 2013|
|Expand the scope of programs to address the worst forms of child labor, including in mining and caste-based servitude.||2009 - 2013|
2. ILO. Rapport de l'Enquete Nationale sur le Travail des Enfants au Niger de 2009. Niamey, National Institute of Statistics of Niger; September 2011.
3. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN . Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.
4. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Enquete Nationale sur le Travail des Enfants, 2009. Analysis received February 13, 2014. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children's work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.
5. Idrissa D. Rapport de l'Examen Periodique Universel du Niger. Niamey, Association pour la Defense des Enfants du Niger; June 30, 2010. http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session10/NE/ADENI_AssociationpourlaD%C3%A9fensedesEnfantsduNiger_F.pdf.
7. Roux A. The Real Cost of Living: Part Two, the Ugly Side of Mining, Champions Club Community, [blog] [cited November 6, 2012]; http://championsclubcommunity.com/blog/community/the-real-cost-of-living-part-two/.
10. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Niger (ratification: 2000) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
11. U.S. Department of State. Niger. In: Trafficking in Persons Report- 2013. Washington, DC; June 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/index.htm?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=35f27bd04c-Trafficking_Bulletin_Issue_9_July_20137_22_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1002a3b355-35f27bd04c-92744149.
12. Galy Kadir Abdelkader, and Moussa Zangaou. WAHAYA: Domestic and sexual slavery in Niger. London, Anti-Slavery Organization. http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2012/w/wahaya_report_eng.pdf.
13. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Niger: When religious teachers traffic their students." IRINnews.org [online] August 26, 2009 [cited November 6, 2012]; http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=85857.
16. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Niger (ratification: 2000) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
17. USAID. Sahel - Food Insecurity and Complex Emergency: Fact Sheet #6, Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Washington, DC; Sepetember 30, 2013. http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1866/Sahel%20Food%20Insecurity%20and%20Complex%20Emergency%20Fact%20Sheet%20%236%2009-30-2013.pdf.
20. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Niger (ratification: 1978) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
26. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) Niger (ratification: 1961) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
27. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81) Niger (ratification: 1979) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
28. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) Niger (ratification: 1961) Published: 2014; April 21, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
29. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) Niger (ratification: 1961) Published: 2013; April 23, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.
32. Government of Niger. Economic and Social Develoment Plan (PDES) 2012-2015. Washington, DC, World Bank; 2013. http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/04/09/000445729_20130409100912/Rendered/PDF/762410PRSP0P120OFFICIAL0USE0ONLY090.pdf.
36. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS-II. Project Document. Geneva; December 20, 2010. http://www.dol.gov/ilab/map/countries/ghana.htm.
39. World Bank. Implementation Status & Results: Niger Safety Net Project. Washington, DC; July 21, 2011. http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/main?pagePK=64193027&piPK=64187937&theSitePK=523679&menuPK=64187510&searchMenuPK=64187283&siteName=WDS&entityID=0000A8056_2011080319221654.
41. USAID. USAID Announces RISE: A New Initiative To Build Resilience In West Africa's Sahel. Press Release. Washington, DC; February 3, 2014. http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/feb-3-2014-usaid-announces-rise-new-initiative-build-resilience-west-africa-sahel.
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