2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Namibia

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2000:325,394
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:14.7
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:15.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:13.9
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2000:
     – Agriculture91.4
     – Manufacturing0.4
     – Services8.2
     – Other0.1
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:109.2
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:77
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 1999:91.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:86.8
ILO Convention 138:11/15/2000
ILO Convention 182:11/15/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Namibia work in agriculture, raising or tending livestock, charcoal production, construction, and domestic service. Charcoal production and working in agriculture may expose children to hazardous conditions, including carrying heavy loads and using dangerous tools. Children also unload goods, including hazardous chemicals, for long-distance truck drivers; work in the streets, including begging or pushing trolleys; and work in family businesses, such as selling baskets. Children from poor, rural households assist extended family members in urban centers with house cleaning, cooking, and child care in exchange for food, shelter, and sometimes clothes and money.

Some children, as young as 12 years and including street children, are involved in commercial sexual exploitation. Children in Namibia are also reportedly coerced by adults to commit crimes, such as theft.

Namibia is a source, destination and transit country for trafficked children. There is evidence suggesting that small numbers of Namibian children are trafficked within the country for forced domestic service, as well as forced agricultural labor, cattle herding, and possibly vending. There have also been reports of Zambian and Angolan children trafficked to Namibia for domestic service and tending livestock.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years and establishes restrictions for both children aged 14 to 15 years and for children aged 16 to 17 years. The law prohibits children under 16 years from working in any mine, industrial, or construction setting; and prohibits children under 18 years from engaging in night work from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., except in cases where permitted by regulation issued by the Minister of Labor. The Constitution protects children under 16 years from economic exploitation and states that they are not to be employed in any work that is likely to be hazardous; harmful to their physical health or mental, spiritual, moral, or social development; or would interfere with their education. Violations of child labor laws are subject to a fine and imprisonment of up to 4 years.

The Constitution and Labor Code prohibit slavery and forced labor. The penalty for anyone causing or permitting an individual to perform forced labor is imprisonment of up to 4 years or a fine. Child trafficking cases can be prosecuted under existing kidnapping provisions. The law also makes it an offense for any adult to solicit or entice a child under 16 years to participate in an indecent or immoral act, including prostitution. The minimum age for voluntary military service is 18 years, and there is no conscription.

The Government of Namibia has 36 labor inspectors; none focuses exclusively on child services. However, the inspectors are trained in identifying the worst forms of child labor, and three investigations occurred in 2008 that involved children in the worst forms of child labor.

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

In 2008, the Government of Namibia included child labor interventions as part of its 5-year National Development Plan. The Government continued to conduct public awareness campaigns on child labor. For example, the Government worked with the Namibia Farm Workers Union and Namibia Agricultural Union to eliminate child labor through awareness raising. Namibia also supported programs, aimed at child-headed households and caregivers of orphans, that were intended to keep children away from the worst forms of child labor and exploitive labor by enabling them to go to school.

The Government participated in a regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by the American Institutes for Research that ended in August 2008. This 4-year, USD 9 million project improved the quality of and access to education for children who were working in, or at risk of working in, the worst forms of child labor. Over its lifetime, the project withdrew 2,383 children and prevented 7,777 children from engaging in exploitive labor.

Namibia also participated in a regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC that ended in June 2008. This 5-year, USD 5 million project developed national child labor action plans. Over its lifetime, the project also withdrew or prevented 5,421 children from exploitive child labor in Southern Africa.

Additionally in 2008, USDOL awarded a USD 4.75 million grant to ILO-IPEC for a regional project to support the implementation of national child labor action plans in three countries, including Namibia. This 4-year project aims to withdraw and prevent 8,400 children in Southern Africa from engaging in exploitive labor, particularly in agriculture and adult-coerced criminal activity.


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