Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-regional Cooperation Through ECOWAS II

Project Duration
December 2010
April 2014
Funding and Year

This project seeks to contribute to regional and national initiatives to combat the worst forms of child labor (WFCL) in West Africa.

The Problem

In Benin and Nigeria, numerous children work in worst forms of child labor (WFCL) in artisanal mines and quarries. Many of these children have been trafficked into this hazardous form of work which exposes them to injuries and diseases, while preventing them from accessing any form of education.

In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, thousands of children are engaged in hazardous activities in cocoa and coffee farming, including clearing fields, using machetes, and applying pesticides. While most of the children work alongside their families, others have no family relationship with the farmer and have been recruited through intermediaries or trafficked.

The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) comprises 15 member States, which have adopted a regional Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action outlining a framework to assure adequate investment in children and develop programs to safeguard the well-being. The ECOWAS Child Policy and its action plan include measures for combating the WFCL, with specific actions against child trafficking. ECOWAS requires increased capacity to achieve its goals under the Child Policy and other regional plans that address the WFCL. 

Our Strategy


The project targets 4,000 children for withdrawn and prevention from the WFCL in the mining and quarry region of Benin and Nigeria and in the cocoa and coffee-producing areas of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The project targets 3,000 families for the provision of livelihood services in order to sustainably withdraw and prevent children from the WFCL.

Immediate Objectives:

  • Accelerate progress on the elimination of the WFCL in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria
  • Reinforce the capacity of ECOWAS to eliminate the WFCL in the sub-region

Summary of Activities:

  • Rescue and rehabilitate children from hazardous and exploitive labor, and prevent new children from entering hazardous or exploitive labor through awareness-raising campaigns and direct action programs among groups at risk;
  • Provide formal and non-formal education, referral to local schools, catch-up classes, and occupational skills training to children withdrawn or prevented from exploitive child labor;
  • Provide livelihood services to families, including income generation training, financial management skills development, and improved access to credit;
  • Reinforce efforts related to child labor monitoring systems;
  • Reinforce efforts to develop National Action Plans for eliminating the WFCL in Benin and Nigeria;
  • Research the scope and nature of child labor in mining within selected areas of Nigeria; and
  • Develop good practices for programming to reduce the WFCL and work with ECOWAS to disseminate these practices.


As of March 31, 2014, the project has provided education services to 4,788 children and livelihoods services to 3,361 households.