WASHINGTON — With an estimated 215 million children engaged in child labor and nearly 21 million victims of forced labor worldwide, it's critical that investments in projects to improve their lives employ the most effective and efficient interventions. Strong project monitoring and rigorous evaluations are necessary to determine which of many possible approaches will most effectively secure and protect the rights of these children and adults. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs today announced $11 million in grants for monitoring and evaluation activities that will help ILAB answer the crucial question: What are the most effective tools for eliminating child labor and forced labor and providing vulnerable children and adults with opportunities for a better standard of living?
"The Department of Labor is leading the way in the use of highly sophisticated, innovative evaluation methods to ensure the effective oversight and accountability of our programs," said U.S Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "With these funds, we will systematically collect evidence about which interventions work and which ones don't, and we will use these findings to inform our ongoing efforts to make a better world for vulnerable children and adults."
The grants include $10 million for 14 impact evaluations, a scientific evaluation technique that seeks to identify what changes or outcomes might be directly attributed to a particular intervention. An additional $1 million will be used to develop a toolkit to guide the department's partners in efforts to address child labor as they design their monitoring practices.
For example, in India — where an estimated 4.3 million children age 5-14 work in the worst forms of child labor — IMPAQ International will evaluate the efficacy of the Child Friendly Villages program implemented by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an organization founded by the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi. In Peru, Innovations for Poverty Action is collaborating with the Peruvian Ministry of Education to assess the efficacy of a less expensive information campaign to keep children in school and out of child labor. The Government of Peru can use the results to decide the best way to fund future programs.
These awards exemplify ILAB's deep commitment to project oversight and the active pursuit of lessons learned for future programs. The 14 randomized control trial impact evaluations are fully aligned with President Obama's Global Development Policy, which calls for "rigorous procedures to evaluate the impact of policies and programs, report on results and reallocate resources accordingly." The results of these impact evaluations have the potential to substantially influence the ways government and civil society approach combatting child labor and forced labor in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Awards include:
- $4.19 million to IMPAQ International to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects of interventions aimed at combating child labor in India, Malawi, Panama and Ecuador, and Rwanda.
- $1.38 million to UNICEF to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects of national social protection programs (cash transfer programs) in Malawi and Zambia.
- $1.3 million to Williams College to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects on child labor of a Room to Read-implemented intervention in Rajasthan, India.
- $1 million to Vanderbilt University to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects of mass media campaigns on norms and behaviors related to vulnerability to forced labor and the worst forms of child labor in Nepal and China.
- $978,000 to Innovations for Poverty Action to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects of an information campaign — implemented by the Peruvian Ministry of Education — on child labor in Peru.
- $883,000 to University of Notre Dame to support randomized control trial impact evaluations examining the effects of UNICEF-implemented interventions aimed at combating child labor in Nepal.
- $256,000 to University of Rome Tor Vergata to support the analysis of existing randomized control trial impact evaluations data to understand the effects on child labor of: 1) parent associations in Mexico, 2) Mexico's PROSPERA (Conditional Cash Transfer) program design, and 3) Unconditional Cash Transfer programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The department also awarded $1 million to IMPAQ International for a cooperative agreement to develop a beneficiary monitoring toolkit for international child labor elimination projects. The toolkit will support the design and implementation of systems that help partner organizations monitor the provision of services, as well as the education and work status of beneficiary children. The aim of these monitoring systems is to track whether projects funded by the department are achieving their intended results.
Since 1993, ILAB has produced reports to raise awareness globally about child labor and forced labor. ILAB has also provided funding for more than 280 projects in over 94 countries to combat the worst forms of child labor by providing assistance to vulnerable children and their families.