Identifying and reducing harmful children’s work in African agriculture is the purpose of a new project led by the Institute of Development Studies and partners, announced today.  

Awarded £8.3million over seven years, the research programme will focus on children and their families working in agriculture in Africa.  

Globally, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related deaths, accidents and occupational diseases.

According to the International Labour Organization, (ILO) about 59 per cent of all children (aged 5 – 17) engaged in hazardous work are working in agriculture.

In Africa, the majority of children’s harmful work is thought to be within agriculture, and primarily in family farming.

The programme will be funded through the UK’s Department for International Development and aims to build evidence on (1) the forms, drivers, and experiences of harmful children’s work in African agriculture, and (2) interventions that are effective in preventing the harm that arises in the course of children’s work.

It will initially work in Ghana with a focus on cocoa, inland fisheries and vegetables. Work will then expand to include other countries and commodities within Africa.

Starting in January 2020, the Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) programme will be led by the Institute of Development Studies in partnership with African Rights Initiative International, University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Development Studies in Ghana, University of Ghana,  the University of Sussex,  the Fairtrade Foundation, ISEAL Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (University At Buffalo), the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

The researchers will take an approach that emphasizes children’s own understanding of both work and harmful work in agriculture. Through research, the programme also aims to better understand how children’s experience of work can be shaped by gender, social status, sibling order and poverty.

Speaking about the importance of the programme, IDS Research Fellow and ACHA co-director Jim Sumberg said: “We are all very excited about the opportunity that this programme offers to strengthen the evidence base around harmful children’s work, and the interventions that can help reduce it.

Our new empirical work will be rooted in rural children’s lived experiences, and a deep understanding of politics and political processes, and as such will provide businesses, governments and others with a much-improved basis for action.”

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