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Paraguay: Child Labor in the Sugarcane Industry in Paraguay

In 2011, OCFT tasked ICF to carry out a survey of sugarcane-producing areas in Paraguay for OCFT. The main population of interest consisted of children from 5 to 17 years of age who were involved in the cultivation or harvesting of sugarcane for human consumption. The primary objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence of children working in the sugarcane industry in Paraguay and to obtain representative information on the working conditions of these children, with a focus on workplace hazards.

To collect these data, ICF conducted a quantitative household survey in the main sugarcane producing departments of Paraguay, including Guairá, Caaguazú, Paraguarí, Caazapá, and Cordillera. The survey collected information from households involved in sugarcane-related activities (sugarcane households), as well as households whose main economic activity was agriculture but not involved in sugarcane-related activities (reference households). The household survey included both interviews with adult informants about the household and its members, as well as interviews with all the children 5-17 years of age living in the household. A total of 596 sugarcane households, 406 reference households, and 1,135 children were interviewed. The data obtained from the household survey were complemented with worksite observations in 47 sugarcane farms where children were found to be working.

Based on adults interviewed, the study found that children represented 28.0 percent of the total workforce involved in sugarcane-related activities in the last 12 months in Paraguay, or an estimated population of 54,928 children, out of a total sugarcane workforce of 195,893 workers. The population of currently active sugarcane workers (those who worked in the last 7 days) was lower, at 130,557, out of which 36,729 or 28.1 percent were children. According to children surveyed, the number of children working in sugarcane-related activities for at least 1 hour in the last 12 months was 63,698, and the number working in the last 7 days was 45,123.

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