ABUJA (ILO News): As Nigeria grapples with child labour emergency, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has provided various forms of assistance aimed at helping her accelerate efforts towards eradicating child labour. Consequently, Nigeria has set the wheels in motion for a remarkable International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour (IYECL) 2021 with the validation of the second cycle of its National Policy on the Elimination of Child Labour and the launch of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the elimination of child labour (2021-2025) in April 2021.
The UN has declared 2021 as the . The International Year will provide an opportunity to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to accelerate progress towards the goal set by SDG Target 8.7 to end child labour in all its forms by 2025.
With fifteen (15) million under-14 children engaged in economic activities and about half this population being exploited as workers in hazardous situations (FML&E 2020, 18), Nigeria’s status as a leader in the coordinated efforts to eliminate child labour from supply chains in Africa by 2025 is boosted by progress reports on Action Pledges.
The ILO tripartite partners and other Government Ministries, in April 2021, made and presented their solemn declarations of intent to contribute to the eradication of child labour by 2025. Amongst stakeholders that presented their declarations of intent were Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E), Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (FMMSD), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria besides other stakeholders.
Partnering with the International Labour Organization (ILO) through the ACCEL Africa Project funded by the Dutch Government, Nigeria has set up systems to communicate the collective harm caused by child labour through - a National Social and Behavioural Change and Communication (SBCC) Strategy; and a Child Labour/Forced Labour Monitoring and Remediation System to sanitize supply chains and society in general.
Nigeria’s Action Pledges presented by its Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, reflects efforts to collaborate with the ILO in conducting a National Child and Forced Labour Survey, as well as empower one (1) million vulnerable households/Child Labour victims by strengthening the Conditional Cash-Transfer Programmes.
To further reduce child labour in supply chains (Granite Quarry, Rice Farming, Artisanal Gold Mining and Cocoa Farming), Nigeria is operating a Conditional Cash-Transfer scheme with 2.5 million households (totaling 10 million individuals) already beneficiaries of this Social Investment Programme (SIP) supported by the World Bank.
Beyond tackling poverty, which is a major cause of child labour, the country plans to use advocacy, research and communication to provide enlightenment on the dangers of the scourge to physical, psychological and collective development. Expanding the scope of this urgent response to child labour in Nigeria, are the Action Pledges by NECA, NLC and TUC coalition.
NECA’s position as one of the umbrella organizations of employers in Nigeria’s organized private sector makes it a critical responder to the child labour situation. On its part, the association is engaging 100 employers to implement standards that will eradicate child labour in their organizations and supply chains this year.
NECA is also developing a code of conduct on child labour for its members while guiding them on implementing apprenticeships and programmes for children between 15 and 17 years in non-hazardous sectors as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In addition, the organisation has pledged to conduct a Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) survey of employers on the elimination of child labour and train facilitators to close identified gaps.
On their part, workers’ organizations, NLC and TUC, would develop a training toolkit on Fundamental Principles & Rights at Work (FPRW), and would replicate set standards at State levels especially in Artisanal Gold Mining in Niger State and Cocoa farming, in Ondo State.
The partners expect the action to prevent underage children from working in gold mines and cocoa plantations, promote social protection and social dialogue in both sectors for children within the working age (15-17), and establish a young workers’ wing of trade unions for workers aged 15-17 years.
 2020 National Social and Behavioral Change Communication Strategy for the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria 2021-2023, Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and ILO.