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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Information On Child Labor and Forced Labor

DE RUEHDS #0293/01 0430410
P 120410Z FEB 10 ZDK




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ethiopia: Information on Child Labor and Forced Labor

REF: 09 STATE 131995

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 001.7 OF 008

Per reftel request, Post has compiled the following information on
child labor and forced labor in Ethiopia. Information provided is
keyed to reftel subject areas. Where not specifically noted, source
information is provided at the end of this cable. For further
information, please contact Political-Economic Officer Skye Justice
at JusticeSS@state.gov or IVG 750-4111.


-- Child labor in the production of goods is a poorly documented but
serious Qy|C@1tton), weaving, and small scale gold mining.
Information on child and forced labor is disorganized, and both the
Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and non-governmental (NGO) sources had
difficulty producing hard data in the form of raw numbers or
statistics. Both NGO and GoE sources concluded that goods produced
(in the agricultural sector and weaving industry in particular) via
child or forced labor are largely intended for domestic consumption,
and not slated for export. The major exception to this is coffee
production, where child labor is commonly used by family farms that
grow and harvest coffee (child labor does not appear to be used in
the further processing or packaging of coffee for export).
Non-scientific sample surveys conducted principally by academics and
NGOs highlight that laborers in agricultural and weaving workplaces
-- particularly women and children -- often face physical, sexual
and emotional abuse, near-starvation, and debt bondage at the hands
of their employers.

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-- A 2005 labor force survey conducted by the GoE's Central
Statistical Agency (CSA) - the most recent survey conducted by that
agency - indicated that 80.2% of the country's employment activity
is agrarian-based, followed by crafts, 7%, wholesale and retail
trade 5%, and manufacturing, 5%. Nearly 57% of those employed are
adults aged 20 and above, while the remaining 43% are children and
young adults between the ages of 10 and 19. Approximately 58.1% of
boys and 41.6% of girls ages 5 to 14 are working. The majority of
working children were found in the agricultural sector (95.2%),
largely on small-holder family farms, followed by services (3.4%)
and manufacturing (1.3%). The survey substantiated that 40% of
children start working before the age of 6, with children ages 5 to
17 averaging 32.8 hours of work for 5 to 7 day work weeks.
Approximately 13% of boys and girls surveyed between the ages of 5
and 9 worked from 58 to 74 hours a week. Most children working in
commercial settings do not have designated lunch or bathroom breaks.
They often eat at their work stations and are fed (with meals
provided by their employers) a once daily thin corn meal porridge
laced with very small vegetable portions. More generous employers
may provide workers with one or two pieces of hard bread or injera
(the national dish, a pancake-like bread made out of teff flour) per
day as a snack.

-- A 2001 ILO-funded study concluded that compared to non-working
children, child workers faced twice as much physical and emotional
abuse, five times as much sexual abuse and eight times as much
neglect as did non-working children.

-- The number of children working in agriculture and small scale
mining is particularly high in the Amhara, Oromiya,
Beninshangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
(SNNP) and Tigray regions. Children in rural areas engage in
activities such as coffee, tea, cotton, and sugarcane production and
picking. Children in urban areas work in the manufacturing of
clothes, shoes, textiles, and weaving by-products (typically
clothing). Per the ILO study, 90% of working children in
manufacturing sectors do not have access to protective gear.

-- Ethiopia is a significant source country for men, women, and
children trafficked internationally, as well as internally, for the
purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Rural Ethiopian
women and children are trafficked internally to Addis Ababa and
other urban centers for domestic servitude and, to a lesser extent,
for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, such as in
street vending, traditional weaving, and manufacturing.

-- Ethiopian law provides for a 48 hour work week (with a 24 hour
rest period), premium pay for overtime, and prohibition of excessive
or compulsory overtime. The government, industry, and unions

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 002.7 OF 008

negotiate to set occupational health and safety standards. However,
the inspection unit of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
(MoLSA) does not have sufficient capacity or resources to routinely
enforce these standards, particularly in rural areas. A lack of
detailed, sector-specific health and safety guidelines also inhibits
enforcement. In theory, workers have the right to remove themselves
from dangerous situations without jeopardizing their employment. In
practice, most workers would fear losing their jobs by doing so.

-- Ethiopia's Labor Proclamation 377/2003, articles 89/2 and 89/3,
prohibits children below the age of 14 from working, an age
consistent with primary school educational requirements. Special
provisions cover children between the ages of 15 and 18, including
the prohibition of hazardous or night work. Article 176 of
Ethiopia's Criminal Code identifies minors as age 15 or younger,
identifying age 18 as the age of legal majority. By law, children
between the ages of 14 and 18 years are not permitted to work more
than 7 hours per day, work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,
work on public holidays or rest days, or perform overtime work. The
GoE defines hazardous work as work in factories or involving
machinery with moving parts, or any work that could jeopardize a
child's health. Children in the 15-18 year old age bracket are
legally allowed to work so long as it is not hazardous to their
health or developmental progress. Children are legally prohibited
from working in the following goods-production related sectors:
work carried out on dockside and in warehouses involving heavy
weight lifting; pulling or pushing of heavy items; work connected
with electric power generation plants, transformers or transmission
lines; underground work such as in mines and quarries; grinding,
cutting and welding of metals; work involving electrical machines to
cut, split or shape wood, etc.; felling timber; and work that
involves mixing of chemicals and elements which are known to be
harmful and hazardous to health. Article 36 of Ethiopia's
constitution states that children have the right to be protected
against exploitive practices and work conditions and should not
engage in employment that could threaten their health, education, or

-- The Ethiopian Penal Code outlaws work specified as hazardous by
ILO conventions. Under the Ethiopian constitution, the hazardous
occupations listed by ILO Conventions are automatically applied
within Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has ratified all eight core ILO conventions. Ethiopia
ratified ILO's Convention No. 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labor
in 1999 and ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst forms of Child Labor
in 2003. Per NGO reports, prior to Ethiopia's ratification of the
ILO and UN labor conventions, openly observable instances of forced
labor in the production of goods was possible. Articles 596, 597
and 599 of the Ethiopian penal code should be of note to fair labor

-- Article 596 (enslavement) criminalizes any attempt to enslave,
sell, alienate, buy, trade or exploit another person.

-- Article 597 (trafficking in women and children) criminalizes the
recruitment, transportation, harboring, import, or export of women
or minors for the purpose of forced labor.
-- Article 599 (participation of illegal associations and juridical
Persons) criminalizes any group or organization's participation in
slave trade.


-- National Action Plan on Child Labor
In 2009, MoLSA revamped its child labor task force and related
initiatives to coordinate inter-ministerial efforts to combat child
labor. For example, over the past year, MoLSA drafted a National
Action Plan on Child Labor laying out both national policy and
responsibilities among MoLSA, the ministries of Education, Health,
and Women's and Children's Affairs. The plan covers a five-year
period from 2010-2015, and will be accompanied by a "Protocol and
Guideline," drafted in coordination with the ILO Ethiopia Office,
that directs implementation of new child labor identification,
withdrawal, reintegration, and education policies by all concerned
government agencies. MoLSA, ILO, and a consortium of NGOs carried
out a pilot test of these procedures, identifying 800 children
involved in the worst forms of child labor, and successfully removed
300 of these children. MoLSA anticipates that both the plan and the
protocol will be formally issued in the near future, and that a new
public awareness campaign will accompany their release.

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 003.6 OF 008

-- Child Labor Surveys
MoLSA and Save the Children - Finland completed a pilot survey on
child labor and exploitation in seven towns in January 2010.
Results will be released in the near future, and MoLSA is preparing
a more comprehensive survey based on the same methodology. The
Central Statistical Agency, which conducted its last detailed survey
on child labor in 2001 and last survey addressing child labor in
2005, conducted a comprehensive survey of child labor in late 2009.
Results are expected by April 2010.

-- Emphasis on School Attendance
ILO reports that since 2008, the GoE's efforts to increase primary
school attendance and improve child health have had a positive
impact on decreasing the incidence of child labor in Ethiopia. ILO
is eagerly awaiting the results of the CSA survey to confirm or deny
this impression.


-- Agricultural sector
Children commonly work on coffee, tea, cotton, and sugarcane farms.
Children working on farms work long hours for little pay, are often
exposed to environmental toxins that can be detrimental to their
health, and are at a higher risk of malaria, yellow fever and
snakebites. Child labor is most common in small scale, family-owned
farms, and is particularly prevalent during harvest seasons. Child
labor is less common in factories processing agricultural products,
where labor laws and regulations are more closely monitored and
enforced. Child labor is less common on flower and specialty
vegetable farms, which have expanded rapidly and produce cash crops
for export, where MoLSA conducts labor inspections with greater

-- Child Labor in Ethiopia's Weaving Industry
In Ethiopia, traditional weaving is performed primarily by several
ethnic groups originating in the Gamo Gofa highlands, a zone
approximately 400 kilometers south of the capital of Addis Ababa.
For more than 100 years, these groups have migrated to the capital
to meet its demand for woven goods. This home-based industry is
male-dominated and constitutes a significant share of Ethiopia's
vast informal sector. Although the number of children working in
Ethiopia's weaving industry is unknown, available information
indicates that children constitute a significant portion of the
industry's workforce. On average, three children, some of whom are
the children of adult weavers, work together.

Fifty-nine percent of adult weavers employed children other than
their own. Weavers returning to rural zones act as traders and
recruit children to work in Addis Ababa. Gamo children are
persuaded to move to Addis Ababa with promises that they will learn
income-generating skills, get an education and better their lives.
Parents are reportedly lured into the arrangement through the
promise of receiving money at holiday times and having one less
mouth to feed.

The factors that force children into the weaving industry are
complex and include poverty, absence of education, population
growth, and urbanization. Just over 64% of children in a recent
study reported that they joined the workforce to assist their
parents who lived either in
Gamo or Addis Ababa, nearly 25% stated that they expected to gain a
skill, and the remainder said that they did so for survival
purposes. Adult weavers reportedly utilize child labor because they
are too poor to hire adult employees.

-- Type of Work Performed and Working Conditions
Like adults, children employed in the weaving industry operate a pit
loom, a traditional technology made of wood. Half of those
interviewed reported that they easily operated the equipment.
Younger children ages 5 to 8 are usually involved in spinning
cotton. Child weavers live and work in cramped conditions. The
majority of child weavers work alongside two other children using
two pit looms in one room that doubled as a living and working
place. Child weavers work extremely long hours. Ninety-five
percent of the children work more than eight hours a day, with 40%
working 13-15 hours per day and 29% working 16-18 hours per day.
Roughly 69% of the children work six days per week. All told, child
weavers toiled an average of 78 hours per week. The majority of
children (57%) start working between the ages of 9 and 12. 59% of
respondents in a recent study reported working for two to three

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 004.7 OF 008

years, and 27% had been working four or more years. Ninety-nine
percent of child weavers stated that they had one day off per week.
Seventy-one percent reported taking breaks during the workday.

-- Compensation and benefits
Eighty-three percent of child study participants reported being
paid. However, gender differences were apparent as only 60% of
girls as compared to 84% of male respondents reported receiving
wages. The children's wages averaged the equivalent of 1.23 USD per
week in 2002, with younger children earning less than their older
counterparts. In the cases of migrant children whose parents who
were promised compensation, the parents reportedly received about
3.75 USD per year. The employment of children working for
non-parental adults is usually based on a verbal agreement.
Children are reportedly not allowed to
leave their workplace without their employer's consent, rendering
the employment a form of bonded labor. Only 24% of children who
migrated to Addis Ababa reported visiting their parents, and this
occurred mostly annually. The chief benefit children gain from
working in the weaving industry is the acquisition of a valuable
skill from which they can derive income. They may also obtain other
intangible benefits such as self-reliance, increased responsibility
and positive self-esteem.

-- Impact on Child Development
Based on ILO standards and the provisions of Ethiopia's constitution
and laws, the work performed by child weavers constitutes child
labor that is exploitative and hazardous in nature.

Education is the arena in which the negative effects of child labor
are felt most acutely. Sixty-two percent of the child weavers do
not attend school. According to one study, 40% of the children are
illiterate and 30% are school drop-outs. The situation is
particularly dire for children who migrated to Addis Ababa as they
constitute 98% of illiterate children and 73% of school drop-outs.
Among school-going children, nearly 26% report attending a
government school half-day while nearly 12% report attending school
in the evenings. The children's academic performance was described
as "average." Children's
living arrangements affected their school participation; children
who lived with their parents were more likely to attend school
either half day or in the evenings than those living with relatives
or employers.

Another major factor affecting school attendance was the number of
hours worked per day. Children who worked longer hours were more
likely to have never enrolled in school, dropped out or be
illiterate. A major reason adult weavers stated for not sending
child workers to school was because their labor was needed to
support the home-based enterprise.

-- Vulnerability of child laborers
Vulnerable children are lured to work in the weaving industry by
promises of access to education or gainful employment. Once removed
from one's family children are often given minimal food rations,
such as two small loaves of bread, one in the morning and one in the
evening. Children are forced to sleep on the same floor where they
work and to wear the same clothes day and night. Children seldom
have access to schooling and are often barred from leaving their
work compounds. If they escape, such children are often forced to
live on the streets.

-- Small scale Gold Mining
Small scale mining involves digging multiple holes across an
undefined expanse of village land for the purpose of gold
exploration. Both adult family members and children are active in
these activities, commonly found in the Hararghe and Benishangul
regions. Often entire families, including children, work in the
same mine. On average, these children work six-day work weeks and
14 hour days, are responsible for digging their own holes, and are
tasked (largely by their families) to carry 40 or more liters of
water daily to facilitate their searches.

-- Child soldiers.
The minimum age for conscription and voluntary recruitment into the
military is 18 years. Although individuals below the age of 18 are
not permitted to enlist in the Ethiopian armed forces, this practice
is difficult to enforce since an estimated 95% of Ethiopians have no
birth certificates. Children as young as 14 years of age are
allowed to join local militias (local government organized community

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 005.6 OF 008

policing entities). While recruitment of children into the armed
forces was reported to have occurred during the war with Eritrea in
1999, no currently available data suggests that this continues to


-- As cited in the agricultural sector and weaving industry, labor
exploitation in the production of goods is demonstrable in the
following ways: employer threats of physical harm (including rape)
as a means of control, debt bondage, few or no meal breaks and/or
meals with little nutritional value, work hours beyond the legal
limits, repetitive work, employer threats to end workplace-provided
housing and meals (common on industrial farms, and in traditional
weaving). Employer intimidation, long hours, little income, and
physical distance thwart many children from attending school and
seeking needed health care.

-- Specific to the weaving industry (where more data exists) as many
as two to five children, often trafficked from rural Ethiopia, may
work in cramped looming rooms that double as living spaces. They
receive little to no monetary compensation. Younger children ages 5
to 8 are usually involved in spinning cotton, and child weavers work
an average of 78 hours per week. In the agricultural sector,
children are sometimes trafficked (in-country), often with a friend
or family member serving as a broker, to industrial farms. The
children's contact with their families is often triangulated or cut
off entirely by their employers. The lack of children laborers'
capacity to reconnect with family contacts and resources, often
leads to their perception and experience of being trapped or
imprisoned in their workplaces.


-- While an industrial court system is supposed to exist in each of
the nine regions, specialized courts are functional only in three,
leaving most forced labor victims to utilize ordinary courts.
Ethiopia's industrial courts tend to be procedurally weak--while the
labor relations board hears disputes and provides case rulings,
there is a one to three year average backlog of cases.

-- GoE officials highlighted efforts of the police stations in and
around Addis Ababa, as coordinated with the (NGO) Forum on Street
Children - Ethiopia. The two entities work collaboratively in ten
Child Protection Units (CPUs) in Addis Ababa. Each CPU is staffed
by two police officers and one social worker who are minimally
trained in child labor rights.

-- The GoE asserts that it is coordinating closely across NGO
stakeholder groups and ministries to assess and address gaps in
labor policies; however evidence of these efforts is limited.
Tensions about division of responsibility on forced child labor
exist between MoLSA and MoWCA. An inter-ministerial committee
responsible for coordinating child labor policies reportedly last
met in June 2007. Within recent months, MoLSA has initiated a new
effort to harmonize ministerial activities and develop a five-year
(2010-2015) National Action Plan on child labor. MoLSA expects the
action plan to be approved shortly.

-- While MoLSA is charged with the enforcement of labor laws,
MoLSA's safety and health administration lacks the capacity to
conduct systematic inspections. Research and programming on forced
labor in the production of goods requires coordinated and systematic
involvement of the private sector, NGOs, and the GoE.

-- As cited earlier, factors forcing children and adults to accept
adverse and exploitative working conditions are complex and include
poverty, the absence of education, population growth, and
urbanization. The GoE's lack of capacity to address labor
exploitation is further exacerbated by escalating living costs and a
strained political operating environment.

-- The problem of child labor in Ethiopia is significant: nearly 50%
of children work to supplement their family income, half of them at
hazardous jobs. While Ethiopians may regard child labor as normal,
many fail to distinguish between moderate and excessive, or
exploitative, forms of work. Aid organizations have long urged
local awareness campaigns and stronger government policies to
protect children from abuse and neglect.

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 006 OF 008


-- In the agricultural sector and weaving industry, exploitative
child labor in the production of goods was strongly alleged by NGO
staffers interviewed. In these areas, anecdotal evidence points to
incidents of rape, starvation, debt bondage, and severed
communication between child laborers and their families. While
denying that forced labor in the production of goods for export is a
widespread issue in-country, GoE officials interviewed admitted to
"problems" of exploitative child labor in the agricultural sector
and weaving industry.


-- From 2005-2009, Ethiopia was one of four countries participating
in the 4-year, USD 14.5 million Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia
Together (KURET) project, funded by USDOL and implemented by World
Vision in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
and the Academy for Educational Development. The KURET Project
aimed to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from
suffering from exploitive labor (including the production of goods)
in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the
provision of educational services. KURET worked on the worst form
of child labor in three sites, Addis Ababa, Ghurage, and Wolkite.
Its media awareness efforts include labor law workshops for
agricultural employers and micro enterprise projects to increase
rural family incomes by providing oxen, goats, labor saving
technology to the parents of children at risk
for labor trafficking. KURET was successful in working with the
Ministry of Education (MoE) to include child labor issues in the
classroom curriculum of primary, junior high school and teachers'
technical training levels.

-- In partnership with KURET, IRC offered educational opportunities
to children with no access to schooling. IRC created flexible
school timetables based on village-specific seasonal calendars and
daily work schedules. IRC constructed 22 Alternative Basic
Education (ABE) centers, including schools in the Beninshangul-Gumuz
region of western Ethiopia (a region known to engage children in
small scale gold mining). In four years, the KURET Initiative
enrolled 3,840 children in school in two regions.

-- The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) has focused
one-third of their programming on child labor prevention. CETU's
highlights include media awareness (radio and televisions public
service announcements), and labor law workshops for employers in the
following three regions: Mekelle, Bahr Dar and Addis Ababa. CETU
is planning to incorporate child labor regulations into bargaining
collective agreements with employers.

-- In 2002, the Multi-purpose Community Development Project (MCDP),
a local NGO, conducted a non scientific sample survey on child
weavers in six kebeles (neighborhoods) across two Addis Ababa sub
cities. At the QQ)t\Qweavers took part in several dialogues on how to shift/improve
working conditions while maintaining profitability. At the
conclusion of the training modules, weaveQ^kP@y,
linking victims of internal trafficking (from the Southern Nations
and Nationalities People's Region to the Northern sector of Addis
Ababa) to MDCP resources. In 2005, MCDP extended its project to
SNNPR to address what it identified as a problem of national
importance. MCDP continues to work on improving weaving
technologies, while training young leaders in children's rights,
conflict prevention and resolution.


Primary sources (18) include interviews conducted with GoE officials
and Addis Ababa-based NGO sources.

-- Agriculture Federation-Ethiopia, Mr. Gebeyehu Adugna and Mr.
Tariku Shachachew;

-- Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU)-Ethiopia, Mr.

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 007 OF 008

Mulu Gared, International Relations Department Head, Mr. Hailu
Bekele Aniley;

-- Employers Association-Ethiopia, Mr. Teshome Zewdie and Mr.
Yohannes Beshah;

-- Forum for Street Children in Ethiopia (FSCE), Mrs. Lamrot Fekre,
Program Director;

-- International Labour Organization (ILO)-Addis Ababa Regional
Office, Ms. Christina Holmgren, Specialist on International Labor
Standards, and Mr. Alemseged Woldeyohannes, Child Labor Program

-- International Rescue Committee-Ethiopia, Mr. David Murphy,
Country Director, Mr. Kassahun Assefa, Project Coordinator, DoL;

-- KURET, World Vision Ethiopia, (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia
Together)-World Vision, Mr. Samuel Buticho, Senior Education Program

-- Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA)-Government of
Ethiopia, Mr. Zerihun Gezahegn, Occupational Safety and Health
Department Head - Child Labor;

-- Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs (MoWCA) - Government
of Ethiopia, Dr. Bulti Gutema, Head of Mothers' and Children Affairs
Department Head;

-- Multi-purpose Community Development Project-Ethiopia, Ms. Mulu
Haile, Director;

-- Save the Children Norway, Ethiopia Office, Mr. Landuber Araya,
Program Coordinator for Child Labor;

-- Tsalke Education and Integrated Development Association-Ethiopia,
Tetake Dejene, Program Manager.

-- UNICEF-Ethiopia, Dr. Alessandro Conticini, Child Protection

Secondary Sources (14):

-- ECPAT International-Ethiopia, [online, April 8, 2003];

-- Forum on Street Children-Ethiopia, Information Pack, 2006.

-- International Labor Organization-Addis Ababa Regional Office,
Child Labour Survey Report. Collaboration between ILO, Government of
Ethiopia's Central Statistical Authority (CSA), Ministry of Labor
and Social Affairs (MoLSA), 2001-2002.

-- International Labor Organization-Addis Ababa Regional Office,
Ratifications of the Fundamental human rights Conventions by country
in Africa, ILOLEX, [database online October 2, 2003]; available from
http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declAF .htm.

-- International Rescue Committee, Ethiopia website:

-- KURET Resource Kit: Ending Child Labor, An Educational Resource
Tool, Forum on Street Children Ethiopia, 2004.

-- Labor Force Survey Report 2005, Central Statistical Authority
(CSA), Addis Ababa.

-- Mitchell-Clark, Kelly, Small Projects Coordinator, U.S. Embassy
Addis Ababa. "Information on Ethiopian Child Weavers." May 2008.

-- Tsalke Education and Integrated Development Association, May
2008, "The Hardships of Children Working in Ethiopia's Weaving
Industry: The Case of Beljike Biko.Q Tetake Dejene, Program

-- UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Ethiopia: Book
launched to explain child rights", [online, May 9, 2003] available
http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=3 4001.

ADDIS ABAB 00000293 008 OF 008

-- U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices," 2008.

-- World Bank, "World Development Indicators 2003" [CD-ROM],
Washington, D.C., 2003.

-- World Vision International:
http://www.worldvision.org/ worldvision/wvususfo.nsf/stable/

-- Yadeta, Lomi. "Child Labor in the Informal Sector in Addis Ababa:
The Case of Child Weavers in the Shero Meda Area." Addis Ababa
University, Regional and Local Development Studies program,
Thesis, June 2002.


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