The ECOWAS Commission and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed to work closely in addressing the challenges of child labour in West Africa.
This was one of the decisions reached by officials of the two organizations after a meeting at the Commission’s Abuja headquarters on 29th February 2012. It was also agreed that ECOWAS should coordinate and harmonize national plans against child labour with a regional plan.
The meeting discussed the Interim Report on Needs Assessment of Child Labour in West Africa presented to the Commission’s Humanitarian and Social Affairs Directorate, by Professor Amadu Sesay and an ILO delegate.
Presenting the report, Professor Sesay, a consultant from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Nigeria, identified poverty as one of the fundamental causes of child labour in the region, adding that 11 of the 15 ECOWAS Member States ranked amongst the 50 poorest countries in the world.
The consultant also mentioned cultural influence as another reason behind the prevalence of child labour in sub-Saharan Africa. He said that due to the lack of monitoring of child education or well being, many were children forced into labour or sold into slavery.
According to Professor Sesay, the limited success recorded in the region on the war against child labour, especially in its worst forms, could also be linked with the fact that some of the activities took place in cocoa plantations/farms in three major counties of the region – Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, which among them produce 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans used in the chocolate and coffee industry abroad.
He, however, commended development partners such as the UK, USA, ILO and some international media organizations for supporting the campaign against child labour in West Africa and called for synergy among the anti-child labour units in the ECOWAS Commission and for capacity strengthening.
In her contribution, Mrs. Bolanle Adetoun, a Principal Programme Officer on Gender and Child issues at the Commission, explained that ongoing efforts were in support of the Commission’s child development policy.
The ILO delegation to the meeting was led by Mr. Alexandre Soho, a Senior Programme Officer.
Source: Economic Community Of West African States – 12 March 2012