Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ethiopia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ethiopia, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d74933c.html [accessed 31 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 Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2005:50.1%1590
Minimum age of work:141591
Age to which education is compulsory:Not compulsory1592
Free public education:Yes1593*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2005:93%1594
Net primary enrollment rate in 2005:56%1595
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2005:29.2%1596
Percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified Convention 138:5/27/19991597
Ratified Convention 182:9/2/20031598
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes, associated1599
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2005, approximately 58.1 percent of boys and 41.6 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in Ethiopia. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (95.2 percent), followed by services (3.4 percent), manufacturing (1.3 percent), and other sectors (0.2 percent).1600 The number of working children is higher in the Amhara, Oromiya, Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) and Tigray regions compared with other regions.1601 Most children in Ethiopia work for their families without pay.1602 In both rural and urban areas, children often begin working at young ages, with many starting work at 5.1603 In rural areas, children work in agriculture on commercial and family farms, and in domestic service.1604 Children in rural areas, especially boys, engage in activities such as cattle herding, petty trading, plowing, harvesting and weeding, while other children, mostly girls, collect firewood and water.1605 In urban areas, many children, including orphans, work in domestic service.1606 Child domestic workers work long hours, which may prevent them from attending school regularly. Many feel unable to quit their jobs and fear physical, verbal, and sexual abuse from their employers while performing their work.1607 Children in urban areas work in construction, manufacturing,1608 shining shoes, making clothes, portering, directing customers into taxis, petty trading, and herding animals.1609 Estimates of the population of street children vary, with the government estimating it to be between 150,000 and 200,000 for the whole country, and UNICEF estimating it to be 600,000 children. In the capital city of Addis Ababa alone, there are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 street children according to the government, and 100,000 according to UNICEF. Some of these children work in the informal sector in order to survive.1610

In 2006, various regions of Ethiopia were affected by floods and drought. The drought in Ethiopia's Somali region has caused many children to drop out of school and start working.1611

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is increasing in Ethiopia, particularly in urban areas.1612 Young girls, some as young as 11, have reportedly been recruited to work in brothels, where they are sought by customers who believe them to be free of sexually transmitted infections.1613 Girls are also exploited as prostitutes in hotels, bars, resort towns and rural truck stops. Reports indicate that some young girls have been forced into prostitution by their family members.1614

Within Ethiopia, children are trafficked from rural to urban areas for domestic service, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced labor in street vending and other activities.1615 Reports indicate that children have been trafficked from Oromiya and SNNPR to other regions of the country for forced or bonded labor in domestic service.1616

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1617 The law forbids employers to employ "young workers," defined as children 14 to 18 years, when the nature of the job or the conditions under which it is carried out might endanger the life or health of a child. Prohibited activities include transporting goods by air, land, or sea; working with electric power generation plants; and performing underground work.1618 Young workers are prohibited from working more than 7 hours per day, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., during weekly rest days, and on public holidays.1619

The law states that children have the right to be protected against exploitive practices and work conditions and should not engage in employment that could threaten their health, education, or well-being.1620 Most forms of human trafficking have been criminalized under the new penal code;1621 the trafficking of women and children carries a penalty of up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine.1622 The law also prohibits the compulsory or forced labor of children.1623 The minimum age for conscription and voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years.1624

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) is charged with the enforcement of child labor laws, but, according to the U.S. Department of State, the MOLSA's efforts to provide oversight and resources have been inadequate. Some efforts have been made to enforce child labor laws in the formal industrial sector; however, this was not where most child labor occurred in the country.1625

The MOLSA, in collaboration with local police, is responsible for monitoring trafficking. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for enforcing laws related to trafficking. In July 2006, the government convicted and sentenced a trafficker to 13 years in prison and imposed a fine.1626

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

In 2006, the MOLSA conducted a national workshop and established a committee to develop a national child labor policy.1627

Ethiopia is one of four countries participating in the 4-year, USD 14.5 million Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) project, funded by USDOL and implemented by World Vision in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and the Academy for Educational Development. The KURET Project aims to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from exploitive labor in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the provision of educational services.1628 In 2006, the government indicated its support for KURET's Alternative Basic Education (ABE) centers by committing to pay part of their staffing costs.1629 Ethiopia also participates in the 5-year USDOL-funded Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1) global project being implemented by Winrock International through 2007, which aims to reduce exploitive child labor through the provision of educational opportunities.1630

In 2006, the IOM trained judges, prosecutors, and police officers on trafficking.1631 The government undertook efforts to combat trafficking, including a program to raise public awareness on the dangers of migrating to the Middle East, consulting with the IOM, showing videos on the perils of human trafficking to passport applicants, and inspecting the employment contracts of prospective domestic workers who wanted to work overseas.1632 In Addis Ababa police stations, NGOs operated child protection units, which referred children who had been rescued from trafficking to an NGO for care pending their return home. The child protection units also collected data on rescued children to facilitate their reunification with their families.1633 A USAID-funded center in Addis Ababa provides shelter, medical care, counseling, and reintegration assistance to girls victimized by trafficking.1634 NGOs, such as the Forum on Street Children-Ethiopia, provided assistance to children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, including such services as a drop-in center, shelter, educational services, skills training, guidance, assistance with income-generating and employment activities, and family reunification services. Such assistance often accompanies interaction with the government in order to develop long-term policy and program objectives.1635


1590 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

1591 Government of Ethiopia, Labour Proclamation No. 42/1993, (January 20, 1993), Chapter II. Working Conditions of Young Workers, Section 89, Article 2; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31977.64870/E93ETH10.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Ethiopia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78734.htm.

1592 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Third Periodic Report of States Parties Due in 2003: Ethiopia, CRC/C/129/Add.8, prepared by Government of Ethiopia, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, April 27, 2005, para 183; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/512c282017f34921c12570b2003f5410?Opendocument. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Ethiopia, CRC/C/ETH/CO/3, Geneva, November 1, 2006, Section 6, Item 63; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/426c8f0ecdb895f1c125724300541453?Opendocument.

1593 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Third Periodic Report of States Parties Due in 2003: Ethiopia, para. 183. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5. See also UNGEI, The School Fee Abolition Initiative (SFAI), [online] 2006 [cited April 2, 2007]; available from http://www.ungei.org/infobycountry/247_712.html. See also Andrew Heavens, In Ethiopia, Better Education for a Better Future, online, UNICEF, June 15, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_34570.html?q=printme.

1594 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1595 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1596 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1597 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 8, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1598 Ibid.

1599 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, 2006, 30; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

1600 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1601 Tassew Woldehanna, Bekele Tefera, Nicola Jones, and Alebel Bayrau, Child Labour, Gender Inequality and Rural/Urban Disparities: How C an Ethiopia's National Development Strategies be Revised to Address Negative Spill-over Impacts on Child Education and Wellbeing?, Working Paper No. 20, London, 2005, 15-17; available from http://www.savethechildren.org/uk/younglives/data/publications/pdfs/WP20Labour.pdf

1602 Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, Understanding Children's Work Rome, July 2006, 9; available from http://www.ucwproject.org/pdf/publications/Youthethiopia.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 6d.

1603 Tassew Woldehanna, Bekele Tefera, Nicola Jones, and Alebel Bayrau, Child Labour, Gender Inequality and Rural/Urban Disparities: Ethiopia, 15-17. See also Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 6.

1604 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 6d.

1605 Tassew Woldehanna, Bekele Tefera, Nicola Jones, and Alebel Bayrau, Child Labour, Gender Inequality and Rural/Urban Disparities: Ethiopia, 15-17, 30. See also Sonia Bhalotra, Child Labour in Africa, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, OECD, Paris, April 28, 2003, 48-49; available from http://www.oecd.org/cataoecd/28/21/2955692.pdf. See also Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 6-7.

1606 Abiy Kifle, Ethiopia – Child Domestic Workers in Addis Ababa: A Rapid Assessment, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, July 2002, 18-19, 22, 55; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/2002_ra_38_et_domestic_en.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Child Domestic Work Rampant in Addis Ababa", IRINnews.org, [online], June 16, 2004 [cited April 3, 2007 ]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=50255.

1607 Kifle, Rapid Assessment of Child Domestic Workers in Addis Ababa, 18-19, 22. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 6d.

1608 Lorenzo Guarcello, Scott Lyon, and Furio Camillo Rosati, The Twin Challenges of Child Labor and Youth Employment in Ethiopia, 11.

1609 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 6d.

1610 Ibid., Section 5.

1611 Andrew Heavens, Resources Needed to Help Children and Families Cope with Ethiopia Floods, UNICEF, September 11, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_35693.html?q=printme. See also Andrew Heavens, In Ethiopia, Schools Empty as Effects of Drought Wear On, UNICEF, June 29, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_34733.html?q=printme.

1612 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5. See also Addis Ababa City Administrative Social and NGO Affairs Office, Save the Children Denmark, and ANPPCAN-Ethiopia Chapter, Study on the Worst Forms of Child Labour With Special Focus on Child Prostitution – in Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa, June 2003; available from http://www.redbarnet.dk/Files/Filer/sexuelt_misbrug/ChildProstitutionStudy.doc. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Ethiopia, accessed October 7, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

1613 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5.

1614 Ibid.

1615 U.S. Department of State, "Ethiopia (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5. See also Alisha Ryu, Ethiopian Children Easy Prey for Child Traffickers, Voice of America (VOA), Addis Ababa, May 26, 2005; available from http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/VBOL-6CSC3Y?OpenDocument.

1616 Ibid., Section 6d.

1617 Government of Ethiopia, Negarit Gazeta of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, Chapter II. Working Conditions of Young Workers, Section 89, Article 1.

1618 Ibid., Chapter II. Working Conditions of Young Workers, Section 89, Articles 1, 3-5.

1619 Ibid., Chapter II. Working Conditions of Young Workers, Sections 90 and 91.

1620 Government of Ethiopia, The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Article 36; available from http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/constitution.pdf.

1621 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Ethiopia."

1622 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5.

1623 Ibid., Section 6c.

1624 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Ethiopia." In Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/resources/global-report.

1625 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 6d.

1626 Ibid., Section 5.

1627 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia Together) Initiative, technical progress report, March 2006, 11.

1628 World Vision, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) Initiative, project document, July 18, 2005.

1629 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together) Initiative, technical progress report, September 30, 2006, 9.

1630 Winrock International, Project Fact Sheet: Scholarships for African Girls, [online] n.d. [cited October 13, 2006]; available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5544&bu=.

1631 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5.

1632 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Ethiopia."

1633 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Ethiopia."

1634 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Centre for Helping Victims of Trafficking Opens", IRINnews.org, [online], June 29, 2004 [cited January 31, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=41909. See also ECPAT International, The First-ever Centre to Help Victims of Trafficking Opened in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday, Addis Ababa, June 29, 2004; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/IRC/tmpNews.asp?SCID=1446.

1635 ECPAT International, Annual Report 2004-2005, Bangkok; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/annual_report/index.asp. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Ethiopia," Section 5.

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