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Zambia

2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Moderate Advancement

In 2013, Zambia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government hired 55 new labor inspectors and created a new District Child Labor Committee in Kaoma District. The Government also eliminated examination fees for grades seven and nine and expanded implementation of the social cash transfer program in some provinces. However, children in Zambia continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and mining. The Government has yet to adopt into law the draft statute on hazardous forms of child labor. Gaps also remain in the current legal framework related to children; for instance, the Education Act does not include the specific age to which education is compulsory and the Government has not defined school-going age as required in the law, which may leave children under the legal working age vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.

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I. Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of Child Labor

Children in Zambia are engaged in child labor in agriculture and mining. Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Zambia.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education
Working children, ages 7 to 14 (% and population): 28.1 (992,722)
Working children by sector, ages 7 to 14 (%)  
Agriculture 91.8
Industry 1.2
Services 07.0
School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%): 65.2
Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%): 27.6
Primary completion rate (%): 91.3

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2012, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2013. (1)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from the LFS Survey, 2008. (2)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children's Work by Sector and Activity
Sector/Industry Activity
Agriculture Production of maize,* coffee,* and tea* (3)
Production of tobacco and cotton (3)
Raising cattle (3-5)
  Fishing,* activities unknown (3)
Industry Mining gemstones (3, 6)
Extracting amethysts* and emeralds* (3)
Mining and processing lead,* zinc,* iron ore,* and copper* (3, 6)
Quarrying rock,* conducting rudimentary mine drilling, and scavenging mine dump sites (3, 6)
Crushing stones (7)
Construction, activities unknown (3, 6)
  Producing charcoal* (3)
Services Domestic service (3, 6)
Street work, including begging (3, 8)
Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡ Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking (3, 8)
Agriculture activities such as plowing, weeding, harvesting, and transporting water and supplies and domestic service as a result of human trafficking (3)

*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.

Children who were trafficked for agriculture work were primarily trafficked from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or neighboring countries, while most domestic service workers who were trafficked were trafficked internally.(3) Some children in Zambia are forced by jerabo gangs, which are illegal mining syndicates, to load trucks with stolen copper ore in the Copperbelt Province.(8) In addition, the Government has yet to release information on child labor from the 2008 Labor Force Survey, although the general Labor Force Survey results were released in 2011.(9, 10)



II. Legal Framework for the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Zambia has ratified most key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor
Convention Ratification
ILO C. 138, Minimum Age
ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor
UN CRC
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

Zambia has not ratified the UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, while commercial sexual exploitation of children continues to be a problem in Zambia.

The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including in its worst forms (Table 4).

Table 4. Laws and Regulations Related to Child Labor
Standard Yes/No Age Related Legislation
Minimum Age for Work Yes 15 Constitution, Employment Act (11, 12)
Minimum Age for Hazardous Work Yes 18 Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (13, 14)
List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children No    
Prohibition of Forced Labor Yes   Constitution;Penal Code; Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2008 (3, 11)
Prohibition of Child Trafficking Yes   Constitution;Penal Code; Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2008 (3, 11)
Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Yes   Penal Code; Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (3, 13)
Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities Yes   Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (13)
Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment N/A*    
Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service Yes 18 Defence Act (15)
Compulsory Education Age No   Education Act (16)
Free Public Education Yes   Education Act (16)

*No conscription or no standing military.

Zambia has not enacted into law a list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children, although the draft Statutory Instrument on Hazardous Forms of Child Labor is pending Parliamentary adoption.(3) In addition, the penalties for child prostitution violations in the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act are different from those in the Penal Code.(17) While the Penal Code treats child prostitution as a felony with a minimum 20 year jail sentence, the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act treats penalties as civil and punishment is a fine of $35-$165. In practice, the Penal Code would be applied, however research did not discover any such prosecutions in recent years.(18) The Education Act of 2011 requires the Government to provide free education up to the seventh grade, and stipulates that education is compulsory for children of school-going age.(3, 16, 19) However, the Act does not provide a specific age or definition of "school-going age," which may allow children to leave school before they are legally able to work.(16) The lack of standards in this area may increase the risk of children's involvement in the worst forms of child labor. Furthermore, the Government of Zambia does not provide public schools in every village, so some communities must contribute their own labor and resources to fill this gap. While government primary schools are free, schools are understaffed and parent-teacher association and other associated fees prohibit some students from attending.(20) In 2013, the Government undertook new efforts to promote female education and eliminated examination fees for grades seven and nine to increase school retention.(3)



III. Enforcement of Laws on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including in its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement
Organization/Agency Role
Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) Child Labor Unit (CLU) Implement and enforce child labor laws.(3)
Zambia Police Service Child Protection Unit (CPU) Work with MLSS to identify and remove vulnerable children from the streets. Work with 72 District Street Children Committees to rescue street children from child labor, including the worst forms, and place them with families, in foster care, or in children's homes.(9, 17) Work with immigration officials to combat child trafficking, with local officials regarding crimes against children, and with schools to education and sensitize children about abuse; and collaborate with the Ministry of Justice to investigate and prosecute child labor cases.(9, 21)
Zambia Police Service (ZPS) Victim Support Unit Handle the enforcement of laws against trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and/or use of children in illicit activities.(3)
Ministry of Justice Investigate and prosecute child labor cases.(9, 21)

Law enforcement agencies in Zambia took actions to combat child labor, including in its worst forms.

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2013, the MLSS recruited and trained 55 new labor inspectors, increasing the number to 108. Despite the addition of 55 new labor inspectors, the MLSS believes that the number is inadequate to conduct inspections country-wide and plans to continue to seek an increase in the number of inspectors.(3) The new labor inspectors received a month-long training on child labor in 2013. The CLU was allocated $36,000 for 2013, which is the same as the budget allocation for 2012.(3) The MLSS stated that the budget and transportation were inadequate to conduct inspections.(3) No child labor cases or prosecutions were recorded in 2013; the MLSS conducted labor inspections in public institutions only and did not conduct any in the private sector where child labor is more likely to be found.(3)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2013, 7 potential child trafficking cases were identified by the Government.(8)



IV. Coordination of Government Efforts on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including in its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor
Coordinating Body Role & Description
MLSS Coordinate government efforts on issues of child labor, including the worst forms.(3)
MLSS-CLU Coordinate with District Child Labor Committees (DCLCs) in 24 of Zambia's 102 districts to increase local awareness of child labor. Mobilize communities against child labor, including its worst forms.(3)
Zambia Police Service Child Protection Unit Coordinate with the Ministry of Community Development, Mother, and Child Health (MCDMCH) to protect children from general abuse, including the worst forms of child labor.(3)
DCLCs Respond to child labor complaints at the local level and file complaints to the MLSS. Composed of ZPS, MLSS, MCDMCH, and civil society stakeholders.(3)

In 2013, the Government created a DCLC in Kaoma District in the Western Province. Kaoma District was targeted due to the high prevalence of child labor on tobacco farms.(3) The Government intends to establish DCLCs in all districts but lacks the resources. DCLCs serve as the main referral mechanism for social welfare services.(3) Due to overlapping responsibilities and communication lapses, individual agency mandates may not be carried out effectively in some cases and a lack of DCLCs may lead to inadequate referral mechanisms.(9)



V. Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Zambia has established policies related to child labor, including in its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Policies Related to Child Labor
Policy Description
National Child Labor Policy Establishes an action plan and designates responsible agencies to address child labor issues.(3, 19)
National Action Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor Identifies five specific priorities for Government focus: improve and enforce existing laws and policies on child labor, protect all children from hazardous labor, strengthen institutional capacity, raise awareness, and establish monitoring and evaluation systems.(3, 19)
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper* Includes the eradication of the worst forms of child labor as a goal.(9)
Sixth National Development Plan (2011-2016) * Includes the eradication of the worst forms of child labor as a goal.(3, 22)
Education Policy and Education Act of 2011* Includes rights of children, including the right to free education, and provides for the re-entry of teen mothers into school.(3)
National Employment and Labor Market Policy* Proposes interventions to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through services provided in the agriculture, health, and education sectors. Provides skills and education to prepare young people for decent and productive work.(9, 14)
UN Development Assistance Framework for Zambia (2011-2015)* Includes the prevention, protection, and rehabilitation from the worst forms of child labor as a policy outcome in accordance with the Sixth National Development Plan.(23)

*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.

Efforts to implement the Child Labor Policy have been restricted due to inadequate funding.(19)



VI. Social Programs to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2013, the Government of Zambia funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including in its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
Program Description
Tackling Child Labor through Education (TACKLE) project Jointly launched by the European Commission and the ILO to combat child labor through education in 12 African and the Caribbean countries and the Pacific group of states (ACP). (24) Aims to strengthen the capacity of national and local authorities to implement and enforce child labor laws and policies in Zambia.(9, 19, 25, 26) Extended until August 2013 and included ILO training on child labor issues for government officials and teachers; implementation of four Action Programs to assist children exposed to or at risk of child labor, especially those living in vulnerable communities; and awareness-raising on child labor through education initiatives.(9, 19, 25, 26)
Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues Project USDOL-funded project implemented by the ILO in approximately 40 countries to support the priorities of the Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor by 2016 established by the Hague Global Child Labor Conference in 2010. In Zambia, the project aims to improve the evidence base on child labor through data collection and research.(27)
Pilot social cash transfer program*‡ Government program that provides funds on the condition that parents send their children to school rather than to work.(19)
Government child labor sensitization efforts‡ Government programs to sensitize the public on child labor at the national and district levels through implementing partners.(3)
Zambia National Service skills training camps*‡ Government program that provides camps for life skills training to at-risk youth, including victims of the worst forms of child labor and children living and working in the streets.(9, 19)
Youth Empowerment Fund*‡ Government program that provides start-up capital for youth to start businesses based on their skills.(3)
School Feeding Program*‡ Government program that provides meals for children that attend school.(3)

*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of Zambia.

In 2013, the Government expanded the implementation of the social cash transfer program in various provinces.(3) Although Zambia has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the problem, especially in some of the most common worst forms of child labor, particularly children in the agriculture and mining sectors and those working on the streets.



VII. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including in its worst forms, in Zambia (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including Its Worst Forms
Area Suggested Action Year(s) Suggested
Laws Ratify the CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. 2013
Adopt the draft statutory instrument that enumerates the hazardous occupations prohibited for children. 2009 - 2013
Determine through statutory instrument the school-going age for compulsory education. 2012, 2013
Harmonize legislation to ensure that penalties for child commercial sexual exploitation are consistent. 2009 - 2013
Enforcement Provide transportation, staffing, and other appropriate resources for conducting child labor inspections and child trafficking investigations and ensure that inspections cover all areas where children work, including both public and private sectors. 2010 - 2013
Provide free education as required by the Education Act of 2011. 2012, 2013
Coordination Establish DCLCs in remaining districts. 2011 - 2013
Improve lines of communication and clarify responsibilities among agencies to improve effectiveness and referrals to social services. 2011 - 2013
Government Policies Provide adequate funding to implement the National Child Labor Policy. 2012, 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 construction to inform policies and programs. 2013
Assess the impact that existing social programs may have on addressing child labor. 2013
Institute and implement programs to address the worst forms of child labor in Zambia, particularly for street children and those working in the agriculture and mining sectors. 2011 - 2013
Publish the data on child labor from the 2008 Labor Force Survey. 2011 - 2013



1. 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.

2. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Labor Force Survey, 2008. 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.

3. U.S. Embassy- Lusaka. reporting, January 16, 2014.

4. Siwawa, S. "Cattle Herding: Barrier to Early Education." Zambia Daily Mail, Lusaka, December 19, 2013. [Hard Copy on File].

5. Kalunga, K. "Zambia: Cattle Herding Robs East Boy-Child Right to Education." Times of Zambia, Ndola, June 18, 2012. http://allafrica.com/stories/201206181013.html?viewall=1.

6. U.S. Department of State. "Zambia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper.

7. Matenga, CR. Final Report: Rapid Assessment of Child Labour in Non-Traditional Mining Sector in Zambia. Geneva, ILO; 2008.

8. U.S. Department of State. "Zambia," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2013. Washington, DC; June 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/.

9. U.S. Embassy- Lusaka. reporting, January 30, 2012.

10. ILO-IPEC. Support to the Development and Implementation of Timebound Measures Against the WFCL in Zambia. Geneva; April 30, 2010. Report No. ZAM/06/P50/USA.

11. Government of Zambia. Constitution of Zambia, enacted August 24, 1991. http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/cafrad/unpan004847.pdf.

12. Government of Zambia. Employment Act, Chapter 268 of the Laws of Zambia, enacted 1956. http://www.parliament.gov.zm/downloads/VOLUME%2015.pdf.

13. Government of Zambia. Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Amendment), 2004, enacted September 8, 2004. http://www.parliament.gov.zm/downloads/VOLUME%2015.pdf.

14. UCW. Understanding Children's Work in Zambia. Rome; May 2009. http://www.ucw-project.org/attachment/child_labour_Zambia20110627_162057.pdf.

15. Government of Zambia. Defence Act, enacted 1964. [Hard Copy On File].

16. Government of Zambia. Education Act of 2011, enacted 2011. [Hard Copy On File].

17. U.S. Embassy- Lusaka official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 7, 2012.

18. U.S. Embassy- Lusaka official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 15, 2014.

19. U.S. Embassy- Lusaka. reporting, February 5, 2013.

20. Kaunda, D. "Education- Zambia: Communities doing it for themselves." ipsnews.net [online] February 3, 2009 [cited http://ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=45656.

21. U.S. Department of State. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 31, 2013.

22. Government of Zambia. Sixth National Development Plan 2011-2015. Lusaka; January 2011. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTZAMBIA/Resources/SNDP_Final_Draft__20_01_2011.pdf.

23. United Nations. UN Development Assistance Framework for the Republic of Zambia 2011-2015. Lusaka; 2011. http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/zambia/?development_frameworks.

24. ILO-IPEC. Tackling child labour through education in African, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) States (TACKLE), ILO-IPEC, [online] n.d. [cited February 27, 2014]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/projects/global/tackle/lang--en/index.htm.

25. ILO. Tackle Child Labour through Education: Moving Children from Work to School in 11 Countries. Geneva; 2009. [Hard Copy On File].

26. UCW. Towards Ending Child Labour in Zambia. Rome; September 2012. http://www.ucw-project.org/Pages/bib_details.aspx?id=12301&Pag=0&Country=232.

27. ILO-IPEC. Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; April 2014.

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