3.3 per cent of child labourers in urban areas involved in hazardous work


Despite gradual progress in reducing child labour, more than 15 per cent of children in the country are still engaged in labour activities.

The Nepal Child Labour Report-2021, jointly released by the Central Bureau of Statistics and International Labour Organisation Nepal, has revealed that out of the seven million children aged between five and 17 in the country, 1.1 million or 15.3 per cent are engaged in child labour.

However, this is a significant decline compared to 2008 when the number of child labourers in the country stood at around 1.6 million.

The report states that 3.3 per cent of child labourers in urban areas are involved in hazardous occupations compared to 2.9 per cent in rural areas.

The report adds that girls (17 per cent) are more likely to be engaged in child labour than boys (14 per cent).

The report says agricultural sector has the highest number of child labourers - 939,000 or 87 per cent. There are 141,000 workers in the non-agricultural sectors, such as construction, industry, transportation, infrastructure, services, and sales.

According to the report, 191,000 child labourers - 111,000 boys and 80,000 girls - do not go to school.

The report adds that the average weekly income of a child labourer is Rs 3,072 which translates to roughly Rs 438 per day. However, gender-based wage gap is evident, as the average weekly income of a boy is Rs 3,138 and that of a girl is Rs 2,919. In most areas, the income of a boy is higher than that of a girl.

As per the report, Karnali has the highest number of child labourers (24.6 per cent), followed by Sudurpaschim at 20.9 per cent, Province 1 at 17.6 per cent, Gandaki at 16.1 per cent, Lumbini at 15.8 per cent, Province 2 at 11.5 per cent, and Bagmati at 8.9 per cent. Ethnically, child labour is more prevalent in the Dalit community, adds the report.

One of the key findings of the report suggests that parental education, wealth, and assets seem to have significant impact on children's involvement in labour.

It concludes that by addressing Nepal's human development child labour can be eradicated from the country.

"There has been a decline in child labour in hazardous occupations by two-thirds in Nepal, a significant progress in a decade. "However, it's high time that we follow a coordinated approach to implement laws and policies to fill the existing gaps on child labour and child protection in the country," said Richard Howard, director of ILO country office for Nepal. The country has recently approved the National Master Plan-II on Child Labour (2018-2028) that aims to amend and formulate national child labour policies and legislations based on evidence. "The government is committed to ending child labour by 2025. The Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Social Security has initiated the second National Master Plan on Child Labour," said Binod Prakash Singh, joint secretary of the ministry.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 30, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.