Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation Through ECOWAS

Project Duration
September 2009
April 2014
Funding and Year

This project seeks to contribute to regional and national initiatives to combat the WFCL in West Africa

The Problem

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. Similarly, reports have revealed a large number of trafficked children forced to work in dangerous conditions in lake fishing and mining in Ghana. In Côte d’Ivoire, children, mostly girls work long days as domestic servants under degrading conditions and are rarely paid. While a number of children seek employment as domestic servants, others are recruited through agents or have been 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 develop programs to safeguard the well-being and assure adequate investment in children. The ECOWAS Child Policy and its action plan include measures for combating the worst forms of child labor (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The project targets 4,800 children to be withdrawn and 4,800 children to be prevented from exploitive work in the cocoa and coffee sectors; lake fishing, particularly of tilapia; mining; and domestic service.

Immediate Objectives:

  • Progress on the elimination of the WFCL in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria accelerated; and
  • Capacity of ECOWAS to eliminate the WFCL in the sub region reinforced

Summary of Activities:

  • Develop a child labor monitoring system for the cocoa sector that could be scaled up and adapted across ECOWAS nations;
  • Develop or reinforce National Action Plans for eliminating the WFCL in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire;
  • Review and update hazardous child labor laws in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and develop a hazardous child labor law in Nigeria;
  • Conduct a rapid appraisal on child domestic labor in Côte d’Ivoire, analytical studies on the scope and nature of child labor in fishing in the Lake Volta area of Ghana, and research the scope and nature of child labor in mining in Ghana;
  • In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire:
    • Rescue and rehabilitate children from hazardous and exploitive labor, and prevent new children entering hazardous or exploitive labor by awareness-raising campaigns among groups at risk and through direct action programs;
    • Provide non-formal education, referral to local schools, or occupational skills training, for children withdrawn from exploitive child labor;
    • Train labor inspectors and law enforcement officials to detect and respond to situations of exploitive child labor;
    • Create public awareness and mobilize support in societies against hazardous and exploitive child labor; and
    • Increase the capacity of community teams to identify vulnerable families and prevent exploitive child labor.  


As of March 31, 2014, the project has withdrawn and prevented 10,851 children from the worst forms of child labor.