ILO and ECOWAS Strengthen Collaboration to Combat Child Labour and Promote Free Movement of Persons in the Region.

In a recent meeting at the Social Affairs Division of the Department of Human Development and Social Affairs in ECOWAS, Abuja, The Commissioner, Prof Fatou Sow Sarr expressed gratitude for the enduring partnership between ECOWAS and the International Labour Organization (ILO), emphasizing their joint commitment to promoting Decent work across the region, especially in eradicating child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking. The visit aimed to fortify the ongoing collaboration between both entities.

Press release | 20 November 2023
Abuja, Nigeria - The Commissioner, Prof Fatou Sow Sarr warmly welcomed the ILO delegate and emphasized the importance of the work done by both agencies in the subregion. Dr. Alves D’Almada Jorge, Principal Programme Officer of the Division, highlighted the significant multiyear financial and technical support from the ILO in pursuit of shared objectives. Over the past decade, the ILO and ECOWAS have achieved substantial progress, including the creation and validation of the Regional Decent Work Programme and the Regional Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour. They have also addressed the coherence of labour migration, employment, education, and training policies in the ECOWAS subregion, along with the development of social protection for migrant workers and their families in ECOWAS states.

Director Phala with Commisioner Sarr
Vanessa Phala, the ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, expressed optimism about the continued strong collaboration with ECOWAS through the joint work plan in 2024. The Director introduced two new projects, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8), the ECOWAS 4x4 strategic plan and Agenda 2063.

The Action Against Child Labor in Agriculture in West Africa (ACLAWA) Project aims to enhance the capacity of ECOWAS to implement its Regional Action Plan to eliminate child labour. The four-year initiative, funded by the United States Department of Labor, aims to improve the lives of 23% of children estimated to be engaged in child labour in West Africa focusing on the Agricultural sector.

The Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM2) Project, a project being jointly implemented by ECOWAS, IOM and ILO, seeks to maximize the development potential of free movement in the region. Focused on implementing ECOWAS Free Movement of Persons' Protocols and the Common Approach on Migration, the project intervenes in areas such as labour migration, policy development, counter-trafficking, protection of migrants’ rights, child protection (especially for children on the move/ child labour), and social security. The collaborative efforts of ILO and ECOWAS are aligned with SDG 8, promoting decent work and economic growth in the region.

The Director of the ILO Abuja country office with team members at the office of the Commissioner, Department of Hummanitarian Affairs and Social Division
As the ILO and ECOWAS forge ahead in their collaborative efforts, the commitment to shared goals and the pursuit of a region free from child labour and with appropriate Decent Work for All persons stand stronger than ever. The upcoming joint work plan for 2024 signifies a continued dedication to making a lasting impact. Through projects like ACLAWA and FMM2, the ILO and ECOWAS aim not only to address current challenges but also to lay the foundation for a more prosperous and equitable West Africa. The journey continues, united in purpose, towards a future where the rights and well-being of every individual are safeguarded.