Abolishing Nigerian Child Labor

Based on recent developments in Nigeria, the International Labour Organization is working collaboratively with the government to establish a variety of plans to eliminate the child labor that currently exists within its borders. Some supply chains in Africa have been notorious for using child labor to cheaply increase productivity and output for their organizations.

The £28 million project developed by the International Labour Organization has been sponsored by the Netherlands in an attempt to fast track the eradication of child labor in Nigeria. While it may not be completed in the near future, as the scope of the issue at hand is massive, the influx of funding to the International Labour Organization should be able to place limits on this struggle to a maximum of 5 more years.

Recent research has concluded that approximately 43% of Nigerian children between the ages of 5 and 10 are currently involved in some kind of child labor practice. These rates are absolutely startling since this means nearly 1 in 2 elementary school aged children in Nigeria has being forced into labor. Many of these jobs include working in the quarries, mines, and even sexual exploitation and armed conflict.

The International Labour Organization is hopeful that this newly proposed project will reduce the amount of child exploitation seen throughout the country in a variety of industries. The primary issue appears to be in enforcing these policies within the informal private sector. This segment of the workforce may include industries such as mining and cocoa production. Given the informal private sector is responsible for over 75% of the child labor observed in this country, it is especially important to place the focus on them.

Currently, Nigeria does not have any government-implemented policies to regulate the issue of child labor in the informal private sector. It is hoped that the International Labour Organization will be able to improve and create legal strategies and institutional agendas that will support both employers and employees in their fight to abolish child labor. Additionally, it is hoped that the more the public (including the shareholders and stakeholders of these organizations that populate the informal private sector) is made aware of the horrific conditions of the children employed through child labor, the more people will stand up and fight against companies following these practices.

Since elementary school aged children are being forced to work, their education is clearly suffering massive negative effects. With nearly half of the children in Nigeria under the age of 10 working in child labor camps, the country is setting itself up for potential economic and societal failure in the near future.

While many informal private sector organizations are only concerned with their immediate financial bottom lines, they may not see the overall, life-long, implications of this societal plague.  Many families who have children working in such hazardous jobs usually only participate out of deep financial desperation. It is the goal of the International Labour Organization to be able to use a partial amount of the funded project money to subsidize affected families and provide them with a way to survive with different livelihoods which do not involve having their children work at the expense of their education and a healthy childhood.


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