Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2014, 11:13 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Somalia

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 - Somalia, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7490a4a.html [accessed 23 April 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 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Somalia are unavailable.4290 Somalia's workforce is composed predominantly of farmers and nomadic herders, and, in 2004, working children were often found engaged in herding, agricultural work, and household labor.4291 A 2002 World Bank study found urban-rural differences in the forms of employment relationship among working children; self-employment and casual labor were more often observed in urban areas, while in rural areas unpaid farm labor was the primary employment form.4292

Children are reportedly trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation by armed Somali militias; their destinations are believed to include the Middle East and Europe. Children are also reportedly trafficked to South Africa for sexual exploitation.4293 There is a reported increase in the number of children sent to live with relatives and friends in western countries. Some of these children may work or collect welfare in their host countries and send remittances to family members in Somalia.4294 Boys as young as 14 years of age have taken part in militia combat.4295

A new Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in October 2004. However, until June 2005, the TFG was located entirely in Nairobi, Kenya and since that time, the establishment of the TFG within Somalia was in its early stages.4296 The Somali TFG does not provide for free or compulsory education. Results from the UNICEF Primary Schools' Survey (1998-1999) indicate that 62 percent of primary schools in Somalia required families to pay fees.4297 In a separate 1998 study, Development Solutions for Africa (DSA) estimated that school fees – by DSA estimates, approximately USD 15.60 per year for each child – were not sufficient to provide a "reasonable primary education."4298 Somali schools at all levels are reported to be staffed with poorly trained teachers and lack textbooks and running water, as well as other items like laboratory equipment.4299

Gross and net enrollment, and primary school attendance statistics are not available for Somalia.4300 Private Koranic and Madrassa schools in Somalia are inexpensive and provide basic education; according to some accounts, they require adherence to conservative Islamic practices that are outside the local custom and culture.4301

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

A new Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in October 2004. The establishment of TFG institutions in Somalia is not yet complete, and the TFG has no means of enforcing labor laws.

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

Somalia has no national education policies or programs on child labor or education. In many cases, local community education committees (CEC) have organized to take on the task of running Somali schools. These committees are often made up of parents; teachers; members of women's, youth, and religious groups; NGO's; and business people.4302 UNICEF has provided support and training to CEC members as part of its program to promote school enrollment and improve the quality of education and school facilities in Somalia.4303 A 2005 European Commission grant provides 2 years of support for the continuation of UNICEF's education efforts in Somalia, which include training for teachers and local education authorities, school building repairs, and the creation of community learning centers that provide primary education to disadvantaged Somali populations.4304 An international effort to improve education in Somalia is coordinated by the Education Sectoral Committee of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), which is made up of UN agencies, donors, and international NGOs.4305 The SACB endeavors to assist in the "reconstruction and overall development of the education sector in Somalia at all levels" and facilitate children's access to high-quality education.4306


4290 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used. 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.

4291 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Somalia, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Sections 1 and 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/.

4292 World Bank, Socio-Economic Survey Somalia 2002, May 28, 2003, 21; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/so/surveydoc.htm.

4293 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Somalia, Washington, D.C., June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/. The U.S. Department of State also notes that, in 2004, "trafficking in children for forced labor was a serious problem." See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Somalia, Section 5.

4294 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Somalia, Section 5.

4295 Ibid.

4296 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Somalia: TFG preparing to begin operating from Jowhar", IRINnews.org, [online], June 22, 2005 [cited September 29, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=47767. See also, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Somalia, June 14, 2005; available from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/so.html.

4297 UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Somalia, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/somalia/rapport_2.html.

4298 Ibid.

4299 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Somalia, Section 5.

4300 These statistics are not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

4301 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Somalia, Section 5.

4302 UNICEF, 2002/3 Survey of Primary Schools in Somalia, September, 2003; available from http://www.sacb.info/MainPubs%20and%20Docs.htm. See also, UNGEI, The GAP Project, Stories from the Field: Somalia, Communities united around education, (April 7, 2005), [online] [cited June 24, 2005]; available from http://www.ungei.org/gap_2005005.html.

4303 UNICEF, EC and UNICEF Join Hands to Support Education in Somalia, (January 31, 2005), [online] [cited June 24, 2005]; available from http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/VBOL-696HBA.

4304 Ibid.

4305 Somalia Aid Coordination Body, The Somalia Aid Coordination Body – Introduction, [online] [cited June 24, 2005]; available from http://www.sacb.info.

4306 Somalia Aid Coordination Body, Education Sectoral Committee – Terms of Reference, [online] [cited June 24, 2005]; available from http://www.sacb.info.

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