Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ethiopia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Ethiopia, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7488fc.html [accessed 25 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.

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

Ethiopia is an associated country of ILO-IPEC.1389 The Government of Ethiopia participated in a Child Labor Forum initiated by the ILO regional office in Addis Ababa to combat the worst forms of child labor through the creation of an umbrella organization comprised of government ministries, UN agencies, trade unions and employer organizations, embassies, and NGOs.1390 The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) is working with the Ethiopian Central Statistical Authority and ILO-IPEC's SIMPOC to conduct a national household survey on child labor.1391 A SIMPOC study on child domestic workers in Addis Ababa was also conducted and published in 2002.1392

In June 2002, Ethiopia was given "Fast Track" status in the World Bank's Education for All Fast Track Initiative.1393 UNICEF is helping to implement the government's Education Sector Plan and is supporting programs designed to promote girls' education.1394 USAID is funding a six-year educational program that focuses on training new teachers and upgrading the quality of existing teachers.1395 Education receives approximately 15 percent of the government's budget.1396

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, the ILO estimated that 41.1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Ethiopia were working.1397 In urban areas, children work as domestic workers, street peddlers and as employees in private enterprises.1398 According to a child labor study in rural Ethiopia, 30 percent of the workers on state-owned farms are children 7 to 14 years of age.1399 Children work on commercial cotton, sugarcane, coffee, and tea farms.1400 In rural areas, children also work on family farms. Household chores may require long hours and excessive physical exertion, and can interfere with school, particularly in the case of girls.1401

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is increasing in Ethiopia.1402 Girls as young as 11 years old are recruited by the commercial sex industry to work in brothels, bars and hotels.1403 Children are trafficked internally in Ethiopia for such purposes as forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.1404 There are reports that networks of persons working in tourism and trade recruit young Ethiopian girls for overseas work and provide them with counterfeit work permits.1405 There are also reports that Ethiopian girls travel to the Middle East for work as domestic servants, where they are sometimes sexually exploited.1406 Recruitment of children into the armed forces occurred in 1999 during the border conflict with Eritrea. There is no evidence that underage recruitment by the government is continuing,1407 though some children as young as 14 have reportedly joined local militias.1408

Primary education is compulsory and free, but there are not enough schools to accommodate all students.1409 Students in rural areas often have little access to education1410 and girls' participation in schools remains much lower than that of boys.1411 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 63.8 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 35.3 percent.1412 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Ethiopia. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.1413

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Ethiopia's Labor Proclamation sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1414 Under the Proclamation, employers are forbidden to employ young workers when the nature of the job or the conditions under which it is carried out may endanger the life or health of the children. Some activities that are prohibited are transporting goods by air, land, or sea; working with electric power generation plants; and performing underground work (e.g., quarrying in mines).1415 Children between 14 and 18 years are prohibited from working over seven hours per day; overtime; between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; during weekly rest days; and on public holidays.1416 Ethiopia's Penal Code includes provisions specifically prohibiting child trafficking, child prostitution, and bonded child labor.1417 The Constitution (Article 36) also stipulates that children are not to be subjected to hazardous work or exploitative practices.1418 Enforcement of labor laws regarding children is reportedly weak, due in large part to an insufficient number of labor inspectors.1419

The Government of Ethiopia ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 27, 1999, and has not ratified ILO Convention 182.1420


1389 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] [cited November 15, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

1390 U.S. Embassy – Addis Ababa, unclassified telegram no. 1343, April 2000. See also Embassy of Ethiopia, letter to USDOL official, September 5, 2002.

1391 Dr. Abdulaki Hasen, General Manager of the Ethiopian Central Statistical Authority, interview with USDOL official, August 9, 2000.

1392 Abiy Kifle, Ph.D, Ethiopia – Child Domestic Workers in Addis Ababa: A Rapid Assessment, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, July 2002, [cited September 12, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/ ethiopia/ra/domestic.pdf.

1393 World Bank, World Bank Announces First Group Of Countries For 'Education For All' Fast Track, (News Release No: 2002/345/S), [online] June 12, 2002 [cited September 11, 2002]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/ WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20049839~menuPK:34463~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424,00.html. See also Embassy of Ethiopia, Ethiopia Pleased to Receive Fast-Track Status for New World Bank Education Initiative, [online] June 12, 2002 [cited September 11, 2002]; available from http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/pr061202.shtml.

1394 UNICEF, Girls' Education in Ethiopia, [online] July 24, 2002 [cited July 7, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/programme/girlseducation/action/cases/ethiopia.htm.

1395 USAID, Ethiopia: Program Data Sheet 663-009, [online] [cited July 7, 2002]; available from http://www.usaid.gov/country/afr/et/663-009.html.

1396 Embassy of Ethiopia, Ethiopia Pleased to Receive Fast-Track Status. See also UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, Focus on Primary Education, allAfrica.com, [online] July 30, 2002 [cited September 11, 2002]; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/200207300147.html.

1397 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

1398 Children working as domestic servants, most of whom are girls, are victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including rape. ILO/EAMAT, A Study on Child Labour in an Urban District of Addis Ababa: working paper on child labour no. 2, ILO/Eastern Africa Multidisciplinary Advisory Team, Addis Ababa, 2000, 3, 6. Street children are reported to live in urban areas and, in particular, Addis Ababa. Some of these children beg or work in the informal sector in order to survive. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Ethiopia, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 271-75, Section 5 [cited December 12, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/ drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8372.htm.

1399 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 275-78, Section 6c. On the Bebeka Coffee Farm, an estimated 490 children ranging from ages 7 to 16 were found to be working on the farm. See ILO/EAMAT, A Study on Child Labour in Rural Ethiopia: working paper no. 1, ILO/Eastern Africa Multidisciplinary Advisory Team, Addis Ababa, 1999, 4-10. See also Carol Cox, Third Secretary, Political Section, interview with USDOL official, August 7, 2000. See also Girma Abebe, Foreign Service National, U.S. Embassy, interview with USDOL official, August 7, 2000.

1400 Children working on commercial farms are often exposed to environmental toxins that can be detrimental to their health, especially on cotton farms. The cotton farms are located in the kolla zone, where children tend to be at a higher risk for malaria, yellow fever and snakebites. See ILO/EAMAT, Child Labour in Rural Ethiopia: working paper no. 1, 3-10.

1401 Embassy of Ethiopia, Brief Report on Efforts Made by Ethiopia to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour, October 2001, 3.

1402 ECPAT International, Ethiopia, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited September 11, 2002]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 271-75, Section 5.

1403 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 271-75, Section 5.

1404 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Ethiopia, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2002; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2002/10679.htm. See also ECPAT International, Ethiopia.

1405 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 275-78, Section 6f.

1406 Ibid., 271-75, Section 5.

1407 Ibid. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Ethiopia," in Global Report 2000, [cited November 14, 2001]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/cs/childsoldiers.nsf/3f922f75125fc21980256b20003951fc/ 142ed7b620e86cb880256b1d006c2efd?OpenDocument.

1408 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 275-78, Section 5. The Ministry of Defense does not permit individuals under age 18 to enlist in the military, but the policy is difficult to enforce, since an estimated 95 percent of Ethiopians have no birth certificates. Patriotism, a lack of educational opportunities, and widespread poverty also cause underage boys to join the military. See Seife Tadelle, President of Ethiopian Youth League, interview with USDOL official, August 8, 2000. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Ethiopia."

1409 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Ethiopia, 275-78, Section 5.

1410 ILO/EAMAT, Child Labour in Rural Ethiopia: working paper no. 1, 1. See also UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, Focus on Primary Education.

1411 The net primary enrollment rate in 1998 for boys was 40.8 percent, and 29.8 percent for girls. See World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002.

1412 Ibid.

1413 For a more detailed description on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

1414 Proclamation No. 42/1993, Negarit Gazeta of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, Part Six, Chapter 2, Article 89, 295.

1415 Ibid.

1416 Ibid., Part Six, Chapter 2, Articles 90, 91, at 295.

1417 The trafficking of women and children is punishable by imprisonment of up to five years, with fines up to 10,000 birr (USD 1,244). See Tilahun Teshome, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University, interview with USDOL official, August 10, 2000. For currency conversion see FX Converter, [online] [cited January 30, 2002]; available from http://www.carosta.de/frames/convert.htm.1418 Embassy of Ethiopia, Efforts Made by Ethiopia to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 3.

1419 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, unclassified telegram no. 1447, October 2002.

1420 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online], [cited December 27, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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