16 October 2019

New project to take action on children’s harmful work in African agriculture

The majority of children’s work in Africa is within the agricultural sector. However, there is insufficient evidence on the prevalence of harmful children’s work across different agricultural value chains, farming systems and agro-ecologies. Furthermore, little is understood about the effects of different types of value chains and models of value chain coordination on the prevalence of harmful children’s work or the efficacy of different interventions to address this type of labour.

These issues will be central to Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) a new, seven-year, research programme. Starting in January 2020, ACHA will be led by IDS 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 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 harm that arises in the course of children’s work.

ACHA will initially work in Ghana with a focus on cocoa, inland fisheries and vegetables. Work will then expand to include other countries and commodities. The approach taken will develop more nuanced understanding of harm and harmful work and will put emphasis on children’s own understandings and experience of both work and harmful work in agriculture.

Speaking about the important of the programme, 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.” The co-directors of ACHA are IDS Fellows Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and James Sumberg.

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