Press release

Action on children’s harmful work in African Agriculture

Published on 16 October 2019

Identifying and reducing children’s harmful work in African agriculture is the aim of a new project led by the Institute of Development Studies and partners, announced today.  Awarded £8.3million over seven years, the research programme will initially focus on children and their families working in agriculture in Ghana.

Globally, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related deaths, accidents and occupational diseases. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) about 59 percent of all children (aged 5 – 17) engaged in hazardous work are working in agriculture.  In Africa, much of the work by children that is harmful to them is thought to be within agriculture, and primarily in family farming.

The Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) 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 children’s harmful work in African agriculture, and (2) interventions that are effective in preventing harm that arises in the course of children’s work. It will initially work in Ghana with a focus on cocoa, inland fisheries and vegetables. Work will then expand to include other countries and commodities within Africa.

James Sumberg, IDS Research Fellow and ACHA co-director, said: “This programme offers a critical and timely opportunity 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 researchers will take an approach that emphasises children’s own understanding of both work and harmful work in agriculture. The programme also aims to better understand how children’s experience of work can be shaped by gender, social status, sibling order and poverty.

Starting in January 2020, the research programme will be led by the Institute of Development studies 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).


Contact: All media enquiries should contact media@ids.ac.uk or call IDS communications on +44 (0)1273 915640.

Notes to Editors:

Related content