Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 11:43 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Niger

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Niger, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4842f.html [accessed 30 September 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 Labor2528
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:66.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:71.8
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:60.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:12
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:50
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:42
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:31.1
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:65
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Niger, children work in the agricultural, commercial, and artisanal sectors, often in family businesses. In rural areas, children work on family farms; including gathering water or firewood, pounding grain, and tending animals.2529 There are children working in hazardous conditions in mines and quarries; breaking rocks; transporting heavy loads in head-pans; washing and processing gold, which may expose children to mercury; and crushing and hoisting ore.2530 Children also work in domestic service and as vendors.2531 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Niger.2532

While some boys receive lessons, others are forced by their teachers to beg and surrender the money that they have earned or perform manual labor.2533

Traditional forms of caste-based servitude, including of children, still exist in parts of Niger.2534 This practice is more prevalent among the nomadic populations of Northern Niger, such as the Tuareg, but is also found among the Zarma and Arab ethnic minorities.2535 Children are also reportedly being used to gather intelligence on government forces by a rebel group, the Nigerien Justice Movement.2536

Niger serves as a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for forced labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service. Children are trafficked internally to work in mines, agricultural labor, and domestic service, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation and begging.2537 Girls are trafficked from rural to urban areas for the purpose of prostitution.2538 Some children are trafficked to Niger for exploitive labor from Benin, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo.2539 Some of these children are trafficked to work in mines, on farms, or in workshops as welders or mechanics.2540

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years, including apprenticeships.2541 Children under 18 years may not be employed at night and must have at least a 12 hour break.2542 Children 12 and 13 years old may work with special authorization for up to 2 hours per day; those 14 to 18 years old may not work for more than 4.5 hours per day and are restricted to certain types of employment.2543 The law also requires that no child be employed in work that exceeds their strength, and that employers guarantee certain minimum sanitary conditions.2544

The law prohibits forced and bonded labor, except for work by legally convicted prisoners.2545 Nigerien law also outlaws all forms of slavery and provides for a prison sentence of 30 years for violations.2546 The law criminalizes the procurement or incitement of a minor for the purpose of prostitution, and establishes fines and prison terms of 2 to 5 years for violations.2547 Nigerien law also punishes the parents of minors or any person that encourages minors to beg and who profit from their begging, by 6 months to 1 year of imprisonment.2548 The minimum age for conscription into the military is 18 years.2549

The Ministry of Labor is charged with enforcing labor laws and has approximately 80 inspectors who are responsible for investigating and enforcing all elements of the Labor Code, including child labor.2550 According to USDOS, there were no labor inspections during the year due to resource constraints.2551

Niger was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.2552 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.2553

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

In 2007, the Government of Niger approved its Poverty Reduction Strategy Document (Phase 2), which included elements on child labor.2554 In 2007, the Ministry of Labor created a national committee to combat child labor within its agency.2555 The Ministry of Labor also continued its work with ILO-IPEC and UNICEF on a program to determine the extent of the country's child labor problem.2556 The Ministry of Basic Education trained educators on the needs of child laborers.2557 The Government conducted awareness-raising events and campaigns on slavery and trafficking. As part of this effort, the Ministry of Basic Education funded a project involving teachers, school inspectors, and trafficking victims; while the Ministry of Labor had labor inspectors provide counseling to employers, parents, and children.2558

The Government of Niger is participating in a USDOL-funded USD 3 million regional project, implemented by ILO-IPEC, to withdraw 1,500 children from artisanal gold mining and prevent 2,500 children from exploitive work in two mining areas within Niger and Burkina Faso.2559

The Government of Niger is also participating in the Child Labor Education Initiative, a USDOL-funded USD 2 million project, implemented by Catholic Relief Services to combat child labor through education. This project targets 3,200 children from exploitive work in such industries as mining; it also aims to limit children's exposure to agricultural work, cattle-breeding activities, and domestic service.2560

The Government of Niger participated in two ILO-IPEC regional projects funded by the Government of France to combat child labor in Francophone, Africa through 2007; with funding levels of USD 1.3 million and USD 3.6 million. Additionally, Niger continues to participate in a USD 4.9 million French-funded ILO-IPEC regional project that runs until December 31, 2009.2561 The project focuses on combating child labor by building capacity, and improving vocational training and apprenticeships.2562


2528 For statistical data not cited here, please see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, please see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Niger, Code du Travail (1967), article 99. See also UNESCO, "Regional Overview: Sub-Saharan Africa," in Global Monitoring Report 2003/4: Gender and Education for All, Paris, 2004; available from http://www.unesco.org/education/efa_report/zoom_regions_pdf/ssafrica.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Niger," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100497.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Niamey, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 4, 2005.

2529 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d. See also U. S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting, October 2, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting, December 5, 2007.

2530 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in Mining in West Africa, Project Document, Geneva, September 30, 2005, 2. See also USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit by U.S. Department of Labor Officials to Niger : November 10-19 Washington, DC, December, 2007, 10-11. See also ILO-IPEC, Eliminating Child Labor in Mining and Quarrying, Background Document, Geneva, June 12, 2005, 7 and 11.

2531 U.S. Department of State, "Niger (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm. See also USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit to Niger.

2532 Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html. See also Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf.

2533 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 5 and 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007. See also USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit to Niger 5. Republique du Niger ANDDH and UNICEF, Rapport de l'etude nationale sur le trafic des personnes au Niger, March, 2005, 10 and 12.

2534 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 5. See also Anti-Slavery International & Association Timidira, Slavery in Niger: Historical, Legal and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Galy Kadir Abdelkader (London: Anti-Slavery International, 2004), 14, 82; available from http://www.antislavery.org/homepage/resources/publication.htm. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in Niger and Senegal, ICFTU, Geneva, September 24, 2003, 8; available from http://www.icftu.org/www/pdf/nigersenegalclsreport.pdf.

2535 U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting, January 10, 2007, para 1-3.

2536 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 1g.

2537 U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger."

2538 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 5.

2539 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Niger." See also UNICEF, At a Glance: Niger, [online] [cited October 23, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/niger.html.

2540 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007.

2541 Government of Niger, Code du Travail, article 99.

2542 Ibid., article 96.

2543 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d.

2544 Government of Niger, Code du Travail, article 100. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007.

2545 Government of Niger, Code du Travail, article 4. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Core Labour Standards in Niger and Senegal, 8.

2546 U. S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting October 2, 2007. See also Amnesty International, Niger Human Rights Concerns, [online] [cited December 9, 2007]; available from http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/niger/index.do.

2547 Government of Niger, Criminal Code: Chapter VIII – Offenses Against Public Morals, (Previously online from The Protection Project Legal Library), articles 292-294. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Niger."

2548 U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007.

2549 U.S. Embassy – Niamey, E-mail communication dated October 4, 2005.

2550 U.S. Embassy – Niamey, reporting December 5, 2007.

2551 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d.

2552 Catholic Relief Services, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Niger Technical Progress Report, September 26, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006, 2.

2553 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, Technical Progress Report-September 2006, 10-11.

2554 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour in Mining in West Africa, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 12, 2007, 2-3. Government of Niger, Full Poverty Reduction Strategy, Niamey, August 2007, 56-57.

2555 Catholic Relief Services, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Niger Technical Progress Report, September 5, 2007, 20.

2556 USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit to Niger 3. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d.

2557 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Niger," section 6d.

2558 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Niger."

2559 ILO-IPEC, West Africa Mining, Project Document, 36. See also USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit to Niger

2560 Catholic Relief Services, Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Niger, Project Document, 2006, cover page and 20.

2561 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication USDOL official, December 13, 2007.

2562 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, February 27, 2008.

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