The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Labor Organisation (ILO) has called for renewed commitments from all actors in implementing the Regional Action Plan (RAP) to eliminate child labour by 2025.
The ECOWAS and ILO made the call on Wednesday during the virtual regional expert’s validation meeting on validating the report of the evaluation of the ECOWAS RAP against child labour, especially the worst forms.
Our correspondent reports that the second phase of the RAP is coming five years after the expiration of the initial RAP 2012-2015 aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labour in West Africa.
The new Regional Action Plan is seeking for more commitments from stakeholders across the sub-region to implement the action plan to ensure that child labor at its worst form is eliminated in 2025 and the protection of children.
Mr David Dorkenoo, officer in charge, ILO country office for Nigeria and ECOWAS said that eight years after the adoption of the action plan, it became imperative to evaluate the level of implementation of the Regional Action Plan.
He said the evaluation will also help to assess the impact of the actions enumerated in the Regional Action Plan on children and the ECOWAS region.
Dorkenoo however called for renewed commitment and unity of effort from all stakeholders in the West Africa region to the implementation of the action plan and ensure the elimination of child labour, protection of children.
“Let me take this opportunity to applaud the effort of the ECOWAS Commission in its various achievements in the elimination of child labour and protection of children.
“My profound congratulations goes to all ILO Member States in the West Africa region and across the globe for the achievement of the universal ratification of convention 182 on the elimination of the worsts forms of child labour.
“The visibility of this commitment should not be underestimated; it is an indicator that the elimination of child labour, especially its worst forms, is critical and expedient to growth and development.
“Indeed, the universal ratification represents an impressive progress in the elimination of child labour, but there is still a long journey ahead.
“The 2017 Global report on the elimination of child labour indicated that about 152 million children are in child labour, of which, 73 million are in hazardous work.
“With a prevalence of about 19.6 per cent in Africa, it is frightening to note that the Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the world where child labour prevalence has not reduced.
“The report recorded that the progress slowed down between 2012 and 2016. Thus, the need to accelerate actions for the elimination of child labour by 2025.
“The report of the evaluation to be presented to you experts is expected to guide the development of the second phase of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on the elimination of child labour.
“Therefore, I hope that this validation meeting would provide a platform for experts to validate the report on the assessment of the implementation of the RAP, without being biased.
“And to brainstorm on the structure of the second phase of the RAP with the goal of providing sustainable and efficient solutions in areas in need of improvement.
“To enhance the work done at the regional and national levels towards eradicating child labour,” Dorkenoo said.
Dorkenoo reiterated that ILO remains committed to collaborating with the ECOWAS Commission and other relevant partners in ensuring the sustainable achievement of the elimination of child labour by 2025.
Also speaking, Dr Siga Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender in the ECOWAS Commission said that the issue of child labour was one out of many child protection issues confronting children in the region.
She said that all of these issues needs to be addressed holistically to achieve impactful results.
According to Jagne, the phenomenon of child labour is a global one involving around 152 million children, almost one in ten of all children worldwide.
She said that reports further show that nearly half of these children (73 million children) are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development.
She added that unfortunately, the problem is more severe in West Africa where more than 40 per cent of all children aged five to 14 or 48 million children depend on labour for survival.
“Ending child labour will require integrated thinking, coordinated actions, effective policy-making and efficient use of resources.
“On our part, distinguished delegates, our responsibility is to carefully review the Evaluation Report before us today.
“And also make input into the outline of the next Regional Action Plan Against Child Labour,” Jagne said.