The number of children engaged in child labour has increased for the first time in two decades—an estimated and staggering 160 million children in 2020 according to new global estimates released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF.
“The economic and social crisis will hit children particularly hard. An estimated 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019,” the report says.
According to the report dubbed Covid-19 and Child Labour, most child labour and slavery cases are reported in economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, including Kenya.
“The global increase is driven by Sub-Saharan Africa, where recurrent crises, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection force families to make difficult decisions,”
This is attributed to the closure of schools as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 in 2020 and the high poverty level in these countries and lack of adequate social protection.
“Children who are from marginalized minority groups, disabled, street-connected and homeless, or from single or child-headed households, migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons, or from conflict or disaster-affected areas are more vulnerable to child labour and at particular risk in the current crisis,” the report reads in part.
The report further estimates that school closures and strained finances may push an additional 8.9 million children into child labour over the next two years.
The poorest countries and in neighbourhoods, and those already in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations, such as children and women and girls are said to be the most affected by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, leading to child labour and human trafficking.
“These vulnerable groups are more affected by income shocks due to the lack of access to social protection, including health insurance and unemployment benefits,”.
”There has been growing exodus of both young and adults especially females exiting Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia to Gulf countries since the pandemic hit the world,” the