Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October 2014, 10:31 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Niger

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Niger, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca69c.html [accessed 23 October 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 12/4/1978X
Ratified Convention 182 10/23/2000X
ILO-IPEC MemberX
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

UNICEF estimated that 70.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were working in Niger in 2000.[2964] Children work primarily in the informal and agricultural sectors.[2965] Children in rural areas mainly work on family farms gathering water or firewood, pounding grain, tending animals, or working in the fields.[2966] Children as young as 6 years old are reported to work on grain farms in the southwest.[2967] Children also shine shoes; guard cars; work as apprentices for artisans, tailors, and mechanics; perform domestic work; and work as porters and street beggars.[2968] Children work under hazardous conditions in small trona, salt, gypsum, and gold mines and quarries; prostitution; and drug trafficking;[2969] as well as in slaughterhouses.[2970]

Niger serves as a source and transit country for children trafficked into for domestic service and commercial labor, including commercial sexual exploitation.[2971] Some Koranic teachers indenture young boys and send them to beg in the streets.[2972] Forced domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation of girls is a problem in Niger.[2973]

Primary education is compulsory for six years.[2974] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 40.1 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 34.2 percent.[2975] 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. Recent primary school attendance statistics are not available for Niger. As of 2000, 71.1 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.[2976] Children are often forced to work rather than attend school, particularly during planting or harvest periods. In addition, nomadic children in northern parts of the country often do not have the opportunity to attend school.[2977]

Among the challenges faced by the Nigerian education system are outdated primary teaching methodologies; pre-school education that is restricted primarily to urban areas; parental attitudes towards Nigerien education; inadequate infrastructure; and lack of supplies.[2978]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years although children under 14 may work with special authorization. Children 14 to 18 years old may not work for more than 4.5 hours per day or in industrial jobs.[2979] The Labor Code prohibits forced and bonded labor, except for work by legally convicted prisoners.[2980] The law also requires that employers guarantee minimum sanitary working conditions for children.[2981] The Penal Code criminalizes the procurement of a minor for the purpose of prostitution.[2982] The Ministry of Labor is charged with enforcing labor laws, but has very limited resources with which to do so.[2983]

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

The government conducts anti-trafficking information and education campaigns, and supports two NGO programs that provide assistance to trafficked victims. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to police and border officials. The Ministry of Justice created a national commission to coordinate anti-trafficking activities, and the government signed an anti-trafficking declaration issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).[2984]

Education is a cornerstone of the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper under the IMF's Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.[2985] The goals of this initiative include increasing primary school enrollment and completion rates, especially among girls, as well as enrollment in rural secondary schools.[2986] UNICEF is also supporting government education efforts to improve primary education through programs like the African Girls' Education Initiative.[2987] The Government of Niger is participating in a 4-year USD 2 million USDOL Education Initiative project designed to provide increased access to basic education for 17,800 working or at-risk children.[2988] WFP is also active in Niger, implementing activities to increase enrollment and attendance in primary schools through a school food program.[2989]


[2964] The survey also found that 60.9 percent of children ages 5 to 9 and 82.6 percent of children ages 10 to 15 were working. The statistics include children working only, children working and studying, and children that carry out household chores for more than 4 hours per day. See Republic of Niger, Enquête a indicateurs mulitiples de la fin de la décennie (draft) (MICS2) Standard Tables, UNICEF, November 2000, 67; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/niger/nigertables.pdf.

[2965] International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in Niger and Senegal, ICFTU, Geneva, September 24, 2003, 1; available from http://www.icftu.org/www/pdf/nigersenegalclsreport.pdf.

[2966] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Niger, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27742.htm.

[2967] Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Niger: Child Labour Project Launched", IRINnews.org, [online], September 13, 2001 [cited May 27, 2004]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=11374.

[2968] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Examen des Rapports Présentés par les États Parties en Application de l'Article 44 de la Convention, Rapports initiaux devant être soumis en 1992, Niger, CRC/C/3/Add.29/Rev. 1, Geneva, October 2001, para. 381. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6d.

[2969] In 2000, the ILO estimated that 57 percent of the workers in small quarries in Niger were children. Some 250,000 children were estimated to be working in small scale mines and quarries. In the shantytowns that spring up around the mines, there are reports that girls as young as 10 are involved in prostitution and that both boys and girls are exploited in drug trafficking. See Soumaila Alfa, Child Labour in Small-Scale Mines in Niger, working paper, ILO, Geneva, September 28, 2000; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/papers/childmin/137e1.htm#Niger. Also see U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 1166, August 15, 2003.

[2970] U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 1166. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Niger: Child Labour Project Launched". Girls are also forced into prostitution. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6d.

[2971] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Niger, Washington, D.C., June 11, 2004. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6f.

[2972] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Niger. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Sections 6f.

[2973] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Niger. See also ECPAT International, Niger, in ECPAT International, [database online] November 28, 2003 [cited May 27, 2004]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/countries.asp?arrCountryID=125&CountryProfile=&CSEC=Overview&Implement=&Nationalplans=&orgWorkCSEC=&DisplayBy=optDisplayCountry. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 5.

[2974] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 5.

[2975] There is significant gender disparity in gross primary enrollment rates between boys (47.5 percent) and girls (27.5 percent) for 2001. See World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004.

[2976] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004.

[2977] U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 2219, July 2000.

[2978] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Rapports initiaux, para. 302, 03, 05, 06.

[2979] U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 0822, February 1998.

[2980] In addition to the existing prohibition of forced labor in the Labor Code, a new law was passed in May 2003 to outlaw all forms of slavery and to assign prison sentences of 10 to 30 years for those in violation. Despite these legal proscriptions, a traditional caste system is practiced by some ethnic minorities, which promotes slave-like relationships between the upper and lower castes. See International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Core Labour Standards in Niger and Senegal, 8-9. Forced child labor does occur. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6c.

[2981] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6d.

[2982] The penalty for procuring a minor is two to five years' imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 to 5,000,000 francs (USD 93.56 to 9,355.52). See Government of Niger, Criminal Code: Chapter VIII – Offenses Against Public Morals, as cited in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online], Articles 291 and 92; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/NigerF.pdf. For currency conversion, see Universal Currency Converter, in XE.com, [online] [cited May 27, 2004]; available from http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi.

[2983] U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 1166. As of August 2003, there were only 8 labor inspectors in the country, one for each region. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Niger, Section 6d.

[2984] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Niger.

[2985] Republic of Niger, Full Poverty Reduction Strategy, Niamey, January 2002, 62. See also U.S. Embassy-Niamey, unclassified telegram no. 1645, October 2001.

[2986] Republic of Niger, Poverty Reduction Strategy, 62.

[2987] UNICEF, UNICEF – At a Glance: Niger – The Big Picture, [online] [cited May 27, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/niger.html.

[2988] U.S. Department of Labor, Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Niger, [Tables on website] 2004 [cited October 27, 2004].

[2989] WFP, World Hunger – Niger, [online] [cited June 17, 2004]; available from http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=562.

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