2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Côte d'Ivoire

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2006:5,478,424
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:39.8
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:41.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:38.0
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Not compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:72.1
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:54.9
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2006:53.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:78.3
ILO Convention 138:2/7/2003
ILO Convention 182:2/7/2003
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Côte d'Ivoire, many children work in agriculture on family farms and on rubber, cotton, palm, cocoa, coffee, rice, and commercial fruit plantations (such as banana, pineapple, and papaya plantations). Children are also engaged in fishing and animal husbandry. In the urban informal sector, children work as street vendors, shoe shiners, errand runners, car washers and watchers, as food sellers in street restaurants, and in public works construction.

According to a 2007 survey led by Tulane University and implemented by The National School of Statistics and Applied Economics in Côte d'Ivoire, many children (estimated at 1.36 million) work in the cocoa sector. According to the survey, many of these children work under hazardous conditions, such as carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides, clearing land, and burning vegetation; are immigrants from neighboring countries, particularly Burkina Faso; do not attend school (49 percent); and report limited access to intervention projects that provide assistance to children (98 percent of children surveyed). Studies conducted by the Ivorian Government in 2005, 2007, and 2008 substantiate many of Tulane University's findings. In addition, the independent verification assessment of the Government's 2008 certification survey results further substantiates Tulane University's findings.

Anecdotal reports indicate that Ivorian children work in small-scale family-operated gold and diamond mines, where they perform activities such as digging holes, clearing out water, and carrying and washing gravel.

The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education, which may include a vocational or apprenticeship component, is a tradition in various countries, including Côte d'Ivoire. While some boys receive lessons, some are forced to beg and surrender the money that they have earned.

Ivorian girls as young as 9 years work as domestic servants, and some are subject to mistreatment including sexual abuse. Especially in the district of Yopougon, in Abidjan, are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation; many of these girls are ages 15 and 16 years and some are fromNigeria.

Côte d'Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children. Trafficking occurs most frequently within the country, including from the northern regions to southern cities. Children are trafficked for labor in mines. Children, often girls between the ages of 9 to 15 years, are trafficked to Abidjan for work in the informal sector, including as domestic servants. Boys are trafficked internally for agriculture labor (e.g., on cocoa plantations) and for work in the service sector.

Children are also trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire from neighboring countries, including for labor in the informal sector. In particular, boys are trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Benin for agricultural labor (on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations); from Guinea for labor in the mining sector; from Benin for carpentry and construction work; and from Togo to work in construction. Boys from Ghana and Togo are also trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire to work in the fishing industry. Girls from Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria are trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire for domestic labor, street vending, and commercial sexual exploitation. Evidence suggests that Government-supported militias and rebel groups have ceased recruitment of new child soldiers and have released some of the children within their ranks.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for admission to work and apprenticeships is 14 years. Ivorian law requires parents or legal guardians to sign employment contracts on behalf of children under 16 years and to serve as witnesses to contracts signed by children between 16 and 18 years. Night work by children under 18 years is prohibited, and all children are required to have at least 12 consecutive hours of rest between work shifts. The Labor Inspectorate can require children to take a medical exam to ensure that the work for which they are hired does not exceed their physical capacity.

The Government has defined certain activities as hazardous and prohibited for children under the age of 18 years. Hazardous activities for agriculture and forestry sectors include: logging; burning fields; applying chemicals and chemical fertilizer; and carrying heavy loads. Hazardous activities for the mining sector includes: drilling and blasting; transporting stone fragments or blocks; crushing stone; extracting ore by use of chemicals; and working underground. Hazardous activities for commercial and domestic service sectors include: selling pornographic material; working in bars and picking up garbage.

Ivorian law prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The penalty for imposing labor on a person is 1 to 5 years imprisonment and a fine. In addition, persons convicted of pimping victims under the age of 21 years may be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years and charged a fine. While the law does not directly forbid trafficking in persons, traffickers may be prosecuted for kidnapping, mistreating, or torturing children with a punishment of 1 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine. Further, alienation of a person's freedom is punishable by 5 years to life imprisonment, with the maximum penalty enforced if the victim is under 15 years. The minimum age for both voluntary and compulsory recruitment into the military is 18 years.

Côte d'Ivoire was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative 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. As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of child labor laws. The National Committee for the Fight against Trafficking and Child Exploitation, under the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs coordinates the Government's anti-trafficking efforts. According to USDOS, the Government conducted raids on establishments that were suspected of engaging in the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, according to USDOS, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire collaborated with the Ghanaian Police to pursue child traffickers.

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

In October 2008, 13 ECOWAS country governments, including the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, participated in a training of military personnel funded by Save the Children Sweden. The training sought to sensitize regional military personnel on child soldiering and sexual exploitation issues.

The Government Côte d'Ivoire participates in a 1-year regional project funded by Denmark at USD 2.64 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC. The project focuses on implementation of policy level agreements on child labor and trafficking. The Government participated in a 2-year project funded by USDOS at USD 250,000, which ended in June 2008. The USDOS-funded project aimed to strengthen the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Children and Child Exploitation. During the reporting period, the National Committee continued to bolster its child trafficking monitoring system through the establishment of additional village watch committees. The Government also participated in a 5-year regional project funded by Denmark at USD 6.19 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC. The project aimed to combat child trafficking for labor exploitation and ended in April 2008. During the reporting period, with support from ILO and UNICEF, the Government trained 175 transporter, security, and defense agents on trafficking, including how to detect and process trafficking cases. The Government of Côte d'Ivoire also participated in Phase II of a 3-year anti-trafficking project funded by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation at USD 2.56 million, which ended in March 2008. The Government, with support from UNICEF, published a procedural manual for the identification and care of child labor and trafficking victims. The Government also continued to undertake awareness-raising campaigns on trafficking.

During the reporting period, the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana have continued to take steps toward implementing agreements under the Harkin-Engel Protocol, by publishing child labor cocoa certification surveys and participating in verification activities in the cocoa sector, according to Tulane University.

The Ivorian child labor cocoa certification survey published in June 2008 covered more than 50 percent of the cocoa growing region. In addition, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire continued to participate in the International Cocoa Verification Board (ICVB) that was convened by Verité, Inc., to strengthen remediation efforts, improve national surveys, and work towards verification of the cocoa sectors of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. In 2008, ICVB contracted the FAFO Institute of Advanced International Studies and Khulisa Management Services to assess the accuracy of the Governments' child labor certification surveys. In December 2008, the contractors published their verification assessment report, which will be used to strengthen future cocoa sector certification and verification exercises, as well as child labor remediation activities. The international cocoa industry provided the majority of funding for ICVB's activities, at over USD 2 million.

The Government of Côte d'Ivoire continues to cooperate with a 3-year project to oversee the efforts of the international cocoa industry and the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, funded by USDOL at USD 4.3 million and implemented by Tulane University, in partnership with the West African Health Organization. In September 2008, Tulane University submitted its second annual report to the U.S. Congress on the status of public and private efforts to implement agreements under the Harkin-Engel Protocol. The Government is participating in a 4-year USDOL-funded 6.8 million ILO-IPEC project to conduct data collection on child labor.

The Government continues to participate in the 4-year Phase II Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), funded by USAID, the World Cocoa Foundation, and the international cocoa industry, which is scheduled to end in 2011. STCP is a public-private partnership that promotes sustainable tree crop systems, including coffee, cocoa, and cashews, and contains a component to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labor on farms. STCP operates in 11 districts and works with 14 cocoa cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire. The international cocoa industry contributed around USD 2.55 million to the program.

In addition, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire continues to participate in the Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions (ECHOES) Project, funded by the World Cocoa Foundation, USAID (Ghana only), and the international cocoa industry at USD 6 million. The ECHOES project is implemented in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana by Winrock International, International Foundation for Education Self-Help, and Making Cents. The ECHOES project aims to provide vocational agriculture education to 4,500 primary and secondary school-age children and 260 out-ofschool youth, as well as provide 250 children and their families with income-generating support.

The Government continues to participate in a 6-year regional project funded by the World Cocoa Foundation at USD 999,880 and implemented by ILO-IPEC. The project aims to reduce hazardous child labor in the cocoa sector. In addition, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire continues to support the Community Education Centers, which provided educational services to children withdrawn from exploitive labor, including in the cocoa sector.

Finally, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire continues to participate in projects funded by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), which implements activities to combat child labor in the cocoa sectors of 252 communities throughout Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. During the reporting period, ICI conducted trainings to enhance awareness of child labor and trafficking, including for Government officials from the Ministries of Interior, Justice, and Agriculture. From 2005 to 2008, the international cocoa industry funded the ICI at around USD 6.79 million.


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