A fisheries community in the Tonle Sap region in Cambodia. Children often have to stay in the fisheries overnight.
Photo: L. Bullerdieck
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According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a large share of child labour takes place in family-based agriculture. However, most agricultural projects do not address child labour, even though they have the potential to contribute to its prevention and reduction. Raising awareness about project impacts on child labour and the inclusion of child labour issues in the planning, monitoring and evaluation process of agricultural projects is one promising way to tackle child labour in agriculture, as emonstrated by a study in Cambodia.

Sixty per cent of the 168 million child labourers in the world are working in agriculture, one of the most dangerous sectors for children to work. In total, 50 million children are performing hazardous work or are working under hazardous conditions in agriculture (ILO/IPEC, 2013). Children in rural areas are often very young (5–7 years) when they start to work as their families depend on the support of every family member (FAO, 2010:1). This also applies to Cambodia, the case study of this article. Cambodia is still one of the world’s poorest countries and has a predominantly rural population, with half of its workforce employed in agriculture. In Cambodia, 51.1 per cent of the child labourers are working in agriculture, taking the various sub-sectors crop production, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry (ILO, 2013:76) into account.

Child labour in Cambodia

• 19 % of the four million children between 5 and 17 years are working (ILO, 2013:26)
• 10.9 % of all working children are child labourers, 6 % of them are engaged in hazardous work (ILO, 2013:26)
• 48.6 % of the child labourers are unpaid family workers (ILO, 2013:72)


Children’s work in agriculture is ambiguous.

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