Asia Regional Child Labour Programme - Afghanistan (DWCP Outcome 2.4)

The Asia Regional Child Labour Programme (ARC) aims to reduce vulnerability to child labour and enhance protection of children from exploitation in Afghanistan to contribute to the eradication of child labour, particularly its worst forms. The ARC will contribute to the achievement of Outcome 2 of the Afghanistan Decent Work Country Programme.

Afghanistan country context on child labour

Child labour in Afghanistan is not a new scenario, traditionally, there’re some social norms that cause child labour. Another factor that causes child labour is poverty that about 55 percent of the Afghan population are living below the national poverty line (ALCS, 2016-17). Aside from 3 million children between the ages of 5-17 years old are engaged in child labour (ALCS, 2013-14), evidence shows that children in Afghanistan engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in armed conflict and forced labour in the production of bricks and carpet weaving. The worst forms of child labour is a big issue for Afghanistan as its struggling with internal conflicts. For the purpose of eliminating the worst of child labour, Afghanistan has ratified ILO Convention 182 which is dealing with the worst forms of child labour and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has identified 27 different occupations as hazardous and the worst form for children in 2017. Out of these 27 occupations, 7 of them are declared as a priority including: Work in mining, welding, working in any types of kiln, working in spraying, mixing, or selling insecticides, working for more than 4 hours per day in carpet and Kilim weaving, any type of work during the night, and working as a bodyguard, keeping children in guesthouses.

The ARC Project in Afghanistan is designed to support the government in the eradication of child labour, particularly its worst forms as its contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, Outcome 2.4 of the Afghanistan Decent Work Country Programme, and objectives of the Afghanistan National Child Labour Strategy and Action Plan 2018-2030. There are legal frameworks and well-developed policies and strategies to eliminate child labour in Afghanistan, but, still, there is a gap in the implementation of these policies. Most importantly, there is no regular awareness-raising mechanism to make aware of the society about these already developed laws and regulations regarding the protection of children and elimination of child labour. Based on the research report “Chronic Conflict, Poverty, and Child Labour”, the survey done by the Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization in 2018 in four regionally important provinces such as Kandahar, Bamyan, Herat, and Balkh found out that there is little awareness of the laws preventing child labour .

Programme objectives

The ARC Project will work with ILO’s constituents and other stakeholders towards the following objectives:
  • Building a credible knowledge base on the causes and drivers of child labour and effective interventions to address them;
  • Aligning legislation and policies with international conventions on child labour, forced labour and trafficking in persons and enforcing and implementing them; and
  • Developing and applying a holistic approach to eradicating child labour, particularly its worst forms, in selected regions of each country.

Implementation strategy

The ILO Office for Afghanistan is commencing implementation of this three years project by starting of 2021, which is the designated year internationally for the Elimination of Child Labour.

The ARC Project will work on mapping the outreach of existing social protection and youth employment policies to families of child labourers (CL), and then advocating and disseminating the issue to policymakers, government officials, and social partners. Capacity building interventions for relevant agencies to be able to enforce the existing laws and regulations on child labour will also be pursued. The Project will support the  implementation of the Afghanistan National Child Labour Strategy and Action Plan 2018-2030, train trainers on child labour to develop more social change agents on the issue, and more importantly, raise awareness and sensitize the community about the negative impacts of child labour. 

Implementing partners

  • Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA), and relevant government organizations
  • Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations
  • UNICEF and other relevant international agencies
  • Media and Civil Society Organizations

Target beneficiaries

The ARC Project will build the capacities of governments, trade unions and employers’ organizations to accelerate action against child labour in the areas of knowledge-generation and sharing, policy enhancement and strengthened implementation, and integrated delivery of services. While reaching out to child labourers and their families at large, it will have a special focus on female-headed households, seasonal migrants, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, internally displaced persons, refugees and returnee migrants.