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Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

Research areas

Forms, prevalence and drivers of children’s harmful work

The first research area addresses the forms, prevalence and drivers of children’s harmful work in African agriculture. Using a common methodology, integrating quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods, we will work in selected countries and value chains to significantly strengthen the evidence about where and when rural children work, what kinds of work they do, and the different kinds of harm they experience. The research will also analyse the various drivers of harmful work, and whether and how they vary across different value chains, economic geographies and political contexts. Child and household vulnerability will be central to this analysis.

Within this context, several special studies will look more closely at how gender, education, disability and mobility gender affect and are affected by children’s harmful work. As an essential part of the analysis of the drivers and dynamics of children’s harmful work we will also focus on politics – at the sector, national and international levels – that frame public and policy discourse around, and interventions to address, children’s work.

Efficacy of interventions to reduce children’s harmful work

The second research area addresses the efficacy of various interventions in reducing children’s harmful work. In fact, for some agricultural commodities there is already considerable experience with interventions to reduce child labour and the so-called worst forms of child labour. These range from regulation and certification, to public education and community-based monitoring. ACHA’s work will explore whether and how changing the framing from child labour to children’s harmful work also has implications for evaluation design and the analysis of intervention efficacy.

It is anticipated that much of the research will be on ongoing interventions, but if appropriate, new interventions may be designed, implemented and evaluated. Much of the previous work has been in relation to highly coordinated international value chains – like those around cocoa, coffee and tea – where brand protection and reputational risk are major concerns. Relatively little is known about interventions to address children’s harmful work in domestic value chains where coordination is less strong, and brands and reputational risk are not major considerations. This research area will address this important lacuna.