Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 13:56 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burkina Faso

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burkina Faso , 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748df23.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138     2/11/1999
Ratified Convention 182     7/25/2001
ILO-IPEC Member
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 66.3 percent of children ages 10 to 14 were counted as working in Burkina Faso in 1998. Approximately 65.3 percent of all boys 10 to 14 were working compared to 67.5 percent of girls in the same age group.748 Most working children are found in agriculture, gold washing and mining, and informal sector activities. Many girls are found working as vendors and in domestic service, and some children are reported to work as domestic servants for no pay.749 Children also work in small, family-owned businesses, and as apprentices.750 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 1998, the most recent year for which data are available, 44.9 percent of the population in Burkina Faso were living on less than USD 1 a day.751

Burkina Faso is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children.752 Studies indicate that a significant proportion of trafficking activity is internal.753 Children are trafficked to work in domestic service, street vending, and agriculture, and to be exploited in prostitution.754 Boys are trafficked within Burkina Faso for agricultural labor, domestic service, metal working, wood working, and mining. Trafficked children are often subject to violence, sexual abuse, and forced prostitution, and lack access to food, shelter, education, and medical care.755 Burkina Faso also receives children trafficked from Benin, Mali, and Togo, and the country serves as transit point for children trafficked from Mali to Côte d'Ivoire.756 Children from Burkina Faso are trafficked into Côte d'Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations and also to Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria.757 However, the number of Burkinabe children trafficked into Côte d'Ivoire has reportedly declined since the closing of the border between the two countries following the September 2002 rebellion in Côte d'Ivoire, with many children going instead to Benin or to Mali to work on rice plantations or study in Islamic schools.758

The Education Act makes schooling compulsory from age 6 to 16.759 By law, education is also free, but the government does not have adequate resources to provide universal free primary education. Children are required to pay for school supplies, and communities are frequently responsible for constructing primary school buildings and teachers' housing. Children from poor families can continue to receive tuition-free education through junior high and high school, if their grades qualify.760 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 46 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 36 percent.761 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 1998, 26.5 percent of children ages 6 to 14 years were attending school.762 As of 2001, 66 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.763

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years of age and prohibits children under 18 from working at night.764 The Labor Code also outlines and prohibits the worst forms of child labor for children under 18. Its definition of the worst forms of child labor follows ILO Convention No. 182. A decree adopted under Article 147 of the Labor Code lists the types of businesses in which children under 18 years of age may not work.765 Under the Labor Code, children and adolescents under 20 years may not undertake work that threatens their reproductive capability.766 Slavery and slavery-like practices; inhumane and cruel treatment; and physical or emotional abuse of children are forbidden by the Constitution.767 The Labor Code also prohibits forced and compulsory labor.768 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 20 years.769 Since 1999, the Government of Burkina Faso has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.770

Child trafficking for economic or sexual exploitation; illegal adoption; early or forced marriage; or any other purpose that is harmful to a child's health, well-being, or physical or mental development, is proscribed by law. Anyone who engages in child trafficking, or who is aware of a child trafficking case and does not report it, is subject to 1 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 CFA francs to 1,500,000 CFA francs (USD 553.57 to USD 2,767.86). The penalty is increased to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment if the child is under 15 years, or if the act was committed using fraud or violence. The perpetrator is subject to a life sentence if the victim dies or is permanently disabled, or if the purpose of the trafficking was for the removal of organs.771 However, reports indicate that the law has not been applied. In 2004, 41 child traffickers were arrested, of which 16 were convicted.772 Also, kidnapping and violence toward children is prohibited by the Penal Code.773 The Penal Code forbids direct and indirect involvement in the prostitution of persons, and explicitly prohibits the prostitution of persons less than 18 years of age. Violations are punishable by 2 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of 2,000,000 CFA francs to 25,000,000 CFA francs (USD 3,690.49 to USD 46,131.10).774 Contributing to the corruption or debauchery of a minor is also illegal and is subject to the same penalties.775 Penalties specified for these crimes apply regardless of the country in which the offenses are committed.776

The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Labor's Directorate of Labor Health and Security, Child Labor, and Trafficking Division are responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but, according to the U.S. Department of State, they lack the means to do so adequately. Violations of minimum age and forced labor laws are subject to fines of 50,000 CFA francs to 300,000 CFA francs (USD 92.26 to USD 553.57) and imprisonment of 1 month to 3 years, and violations of laws prohibiting the worst forms of child labor are governed by the penalties set forth by the child trafficking legislation.777 The national police, gendarmes, customs service, and labor inspectors share responsibility for investigating child labor violations.778 In late 2004, a law was passed to establish juvenile courts to address child rights issues.779 Due to resource constraints, the government provides minimal support to Burkinabe trafficking victims, and deports foreign victims.780

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Burkina Faso participates in a regional USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC project to combat the trafficking of children for exploitative labor in West and Central Africa.781 The government also takes part in a USD 3 million USDOL-funded education initiative to promote education for victims of child trafficking and children at risk of being trafficked,782 and a USD 3 million regional USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC project to combat child labor in small-scale gold mining.783 The U.S. Department of State is funding an ILO-IPEC project in Burkina Faso to provide socioeconomic rehabilitation to 70 trafficked children. The Government of Burkina Faso is also participating in an ILO-IPEC project funded by France to combat child labor in Francophone Africa,784 as well as one funded by Denmark to combat trafficking in children for labor exploitation in Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.785 In addition, the government is collaborating with ILO-IPEC to conduct a survey of child labor in the country.786

The government works to raise awareness among children and parents about the dangers of child trafficking.787 With funding from UNICEF, the government produced a TV and radio series on child labor and child trafficking.788 There is one reintegration center in the capital for at risk children, and the government has collaborated with UNICEF to establish 19 transit centers throughout the country for trafficked children. The government also cooperates with NGOs and international organizations to reintegrate child trafficking victims.789 The government supports Vigilance and Surveillance Committees throughout the country and has trained them on how to identify and assist trafficking victims. As a result of the bilateral agreement Burkina Faso signed with Mali in 2004 to combat cross-border child trafficking, 20 trafficked children were repatriated.790 In July 2005, Burkina Faso was one of 9 countries to sign a multilateral cooperative agreement to combat child trafficking in West Africa.791

The Government of Burkina Faso is implementing a 10-Year Basic Education Development Plan (20012010) as part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy supported by the World Bank.792 The plan focuses on improving primary school enrollment and attendance as well as literacy rates.793 The World Bank is supporting the plan through a project that focuses on improving access to and quality of basic education, and improving management and capacity within the Ministry of Education.794 The government is also working in partnership with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to improve girls' primary education completion rates in the 10 provinces with the lowest completion rates.795 At a regional conference in Ethiopia in September 2005, the government pledged to place a high priority on education in rural areas when working to meet their poverty eradication targets.796

UNICEF also works with the government to construct satellite schools in an effort to improve access to basic education.797 The government promotes primary education for girls by implementing school feeding programs and information campaigns to change attitudes about sending girls to school. It also encourages scholarships from donors.798 In addition, the Government of Burkina Faso is utilizing USD 12.1 million provided by the U.S. government to improve girls schooling, including building wells, latrines, and community nurseries in schools.799


748 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

749 Tertius Zongo, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United States, La Lutte Contre le Travail des Enfants au Burkina Faso, public comment submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., September 2002, 7. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Burkina Faso, Washington, DC, February 28, 2005, Section 6c; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41590.htm.

750 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 6d.

751 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2005.

752 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, DC, June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46613.htm.

753 ILO-IPEC Official, meeting with USDOL Official, January 20, 2003.

754 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, synthesis report, Abidjan, 2001, 9, 11; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/field/africa/central.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

755 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5.

756 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5. Reports indicate that children from Benin and Togo are trafficked in Burkina Faso for forced labor. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

757 ECPAT International, Burkina Faso, in ECPAT International, [database online] n.d. [cited June 15, 2005]; available from http://ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/countries.asp?arrCountryID=27&CountryProfile=facts, affiliation,humanrights&CSEC=Overview,Prostitution,Pornography,trafficking&Implement=Coordination_cooperation,Preventio n,Protection,Recovery,ChildParticipation&Nationalplans=National_plans_of_action&orgWorkCSEC=orgWorkCSEC&DisplayBy=optDisplayCountry. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

758 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5.

759 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of State Parties due in 1997: Burkina Faso, Geneva, February 2002, para. 341.

760 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, August 26, 2004.

761 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005).

762 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

763 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

764 In times of emergency, the minimum age for night work may be lowered to 16 years. The Labor Code was adopted on September 14, 2004 and promulgated on October 15, 2004. See Government of Burkina Faso, Loi n° 033-2004/AN portant Code du Travail au Burkina Faso, (September 14, 2004), Articles 146, 147; available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2004/no_spécial_02/Loi_AN_2004_00033.htm. See also Government of Burkina Faso, Décret n° 2004-451-PRES du 15 octobre 2004 promulguant la loi n° 033-2004/AN du 14 septembre 2004 portant Code du travail, (October 15, 2004); available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2004/no_spécial_02/Décret_PRES_2004_00451.htm.

765 See Code du Travail, Articles 147, 148. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the trafficking of children for labour exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA) – Responses to ICLP Comments, March 2005, IPEC responses, Geneva, March 2005, 1.

766 Code du Travail, Article 145.

767 Ibid., Article 148.

768 However, certain types of work, such as military service and prison labor, are not included in this prohibition. See Ibid., Articles 5, 6.

769 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=760.

770 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

771 Government of Burkina Faso, Loi n° 038-2003/AN portant définition et répression du trafic d'enfant(s), (May 27, 2003), Articles 3-6; available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2003/no_31/Loi_AN_2003_00038.htm. For currency conversion, see FX Converter, [online] [cited July 1, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

772 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

773 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5.

774 Indirect or direct involvement is meant to describe the action of a person who does any of the following: "knowingly aids, assists, or protects the prostitution of others or the solicitation for the purposes of prostitution; shares, in any manner whatsoever, in the profits, or receives subsidies from [the prostitution of others]; knowingly lives with a person regularly engaged in prostitution; engages, entices, or supports a person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or debauchery, or delivers a person into prostitution or debauchery; or serves as an intermediary . . .between persons engaging in prostitution or debauchery and individuals who exploit or remunerate the prostitution or debauchery of others." See Government of Burkina Faso, Penal Code, Section IV-Offenses against Public Morals, (April 13, 1946), Articles 334, 334-1; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/BURKINAFASO.pdf. For currency conversion, see FX Converter.

775 Article 334-1 of the Burkina Faso Penal Code makes illegal the regular contribution to the corruption of a juvenile under age 21 and the occasional contribution to the corruption of a juvenile under age 16. See Government of Burkina Faso Penal Code.

776 Ibid., Articles 334 and 334-1.

777 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Sections 5, 6d. See also Code du Travail, Articles 388, 390. For currency conversions, see FX Converter.

778 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, August 26, 2004.

779 In November 2004, two courts were set up, and more are envisioned. See Save the Children-Canada, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), March 2005 TPR, technical progress report, Toronto, March 11, 2005, 3.

780 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

781 The regional child trafficking project covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Mali, and Togo. The project began in July 2001 and is scheduled for completion in June 2007. See International Child Labor Program U.S. Department of Labor, Combating Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases 1 & 2 (LUTRENA), Project Summary, 2004.

782 The four year project began in August 2003. U.S. Department of Labor – International Child Labor Program, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), Project Summary, 2003.

783 The 39-month project, funded in September 2005, covers Burkina Faso, Niger and, to a lesser extent, Mali. See ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour in Mining in West Africa, project document, Geneva, September 30, 2005.

784 The countries participating in this project include Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

785 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 8, 2005.

786 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour – Highlights 2004, online, Geneva, October 2004, 20; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/download/implementation_2004_en.pdf.

787 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 6d.

788 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, September 30, 2005.

789 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

790 The Committees have been established in 39 of the country's 45 provinces. See Ibid.

791 Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Child Trafficking in West Africa, July 27, 2005. See also Save the Children-Canada, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), September 2005 TPR, technical progress report, Toronto, September 5, 2005, 3.

792 Burkina Faso Ministry of Economy and Development and Ministry of Finance and Budget, Burkina Faso Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper: Progress Report 2001, The World Bank, September, 2002. See also, Integrated Regional Information Networks, BURKINA FASO: Focus on New Plan for Basic Education, [online] September 23, 2002 [cited July 1, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=30039.

793 See U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, August 26, 2004.

794 The 5-year project, which includes construction of primary schools and teacher training, began in 2002. See World Bank, Basic Education Sector Project, [online] n.d. [cited June 20, 2005]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/default/main?pagePK=64027221&piPK=64027220&theSitePK=343876&menuPK=343908&P rojectid=P000309.

795 The 2-year project will include the construction of 132 schools, including latrines, wells and canteens, as well as housing and incentives for teachers. See Millennium Challenge Corporation, Millennium Challenge Corporation Board Approves First Threshold Program, press release, Washington, DC, July 8, 2005; available from http://www.mcc.gov/public_affairs/press_releases/pr_070805.shtml. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou official, email communication to USDOL official, September 30, 2005.

796 Liz Ford, "African countries pledge to improve rural education," Guardian Unlimited (London), September 9, 2005; available from http://education.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5282047-111787,00.html.

797 UNICEF, At a glance: Burkina Faso, UNICEF, [online] n.d. [cited June 20, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/burkinafaso.html.

798 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Burkina Faso, Section 5.

799 Save the Children-Canada, TREAT, September 2005 TPR, 3.

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