Child labour by state, % of children

Source: MICS 2016/17

More than half of Nigerian children aged 5 to 17 (50.8%) are involved in child labour, although the issue varies significantly by region. The prevalence of child labour is about 17% in Lagos, but closer to 71% in Kebbi. Children in rural areas are nearly twice as likely to be in child labour than children in urban areas (59.1% versus 33.4%). About 85% of working children aged 5 to 14 are involved in the agricultural sector, mostly working for family businesses. Children from wealthier households are less likely to be involved in child labour. The prevalence of child labour among the poorest quintile is more than double than that of the richest. On average, children aged 5 to 14 work more than 30 hours a week. This has obvious consequences on their ability to get an education—of those in child labour, 56.9% do not attend school.

Nigeria is a source, transit and destination country for child trafficking. The FOS/ILO National Child Labour Survey, completed in 2003, indicates that children in child labour are at particular risk of being trafficked internally and externally for domestic and forced labour, prostitution, entertainment, pornography, armed conflict, and sometimes ritual killings. However, accurate and up-to-date figures are difficult to obtain. Within Africa, Nigeria is the largest single source of trafficked women to Europe and the Middle East.

Child labour by wealth quintile

Source: MICS 2016/17



Nigeria signs, and later ratifies, the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. The country commits to taking measures against transnational organized crime


Nigeria adopts the Child Rights Act, which imposes specific duties and obligations on the government, parents, and organizations and bodies related to the well-being of children. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Personsis created by the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act of 2003.


Nigeria adopts its first National Policy on Child Labour and National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour,both products of a consultative process among stakeholders engaged in activities geared toward eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the country. The Hazardous Child Labour Listis developed and validated.


Nigeria enacts the amended Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act. As a result of new trends in trafficking in persons and the need to strengthen the institutional framework, the 2003 Act is repealed. The country adopts the National Policy on Migration. The policy implementation plan provides a legal framework for monitoring and regulating internal and international migration, as well as the collection and dissemination of migration data by relevant stakeholders.


  • Ensure national compliance with existing codes of conduct and standards of procedures. The National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour must be reviewed and adapted, and national codes of conduct and standards of procedures must be reviewed or developed. Child labour data should be collected and regularly updated. Supply chains should be monitored regarding child labour, and products should be certified.
  • Strengthen child labour prevention, withdrawal, and rehabilitation mechanisms. Livelihood supports—an alternative to the income from child labour—should be provided for parents of victims of child labour. Educational support services and life skills and vocational training should be provided to children involved in or at risk of child labour. The capacity of the Child Labour Unit as well as labour inspectors should be strengthened.
  • Develop effective institutional arrangements for awareness-raising and mass mobilization against child labour. Workers and employers should be jointly sensitized about child labour in supply chains and supported through the development of targeted information materials. Steering committees should be established at the levels of local governments and communities, and referral centers for case management should be created.
  • Strengthen policy, coordination, and cooperation structures among state and non-state actors at all levels on regular and irregular migration. Normative guidance is required to advance the implementation of global policy instruments by Member States. Coordination structures at the federal and state levels must be strengthened to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and provide sustainable rehabilitation and reintegration support.
  • Provide enhanced victim-centered and gender-sensitive rehabilitation and reintegration support to victims of trafficking and other vulnerable returnees. The capacity of relevant stakeholders must be strengthened to provide comprehensive assistance and care at all levels. The coordination of services and referral mechanisms to assist victims of trafficking and other returnees should be improved.
  • Enhance the legal and criminal justice response for preventing and combating trafficking in persons. The capacity of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement agents, border guards, and front-line officers on investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and victim and witness protection must be reinforced. Regional and international cooperation on mutual legal assistance and other relevant procedures should be facilitated.
  • Enable migrants, potential migrants, and the community to make safe and informed knowledge-based decisions on migration. Awareness-raising efforts should be implemented at the grassroots level to prevent trafficking and promote safe and regular migration pathways. The evidence base on migration and trafficking should be enhanced.
  • Improve social safety nets in conflict and disaster-affected communities. To provide more effective social protection to vulnerable populations, the school-feeding programme should be extended to camp schools. Other social protection mechanisms should be promoted.
  • Enhance community mediation and peacebuilding efforts. The capacity of peacebuilding structures in the relevant local government areas should be strengthened. Children associated with armed forces and armed groups should be de-radicalized and reintegrated.
  • Strengthen public-private partnerships to rebuild community infrastructure. Collective efforts should be undertaken to revive community life in conflict-affected areas and provide basic infrastructure, including water, roads, markets, and power supply.
  • Increase collaboration with major counter-terrorism, conflict, humanitarian and disaster stakeholders. Addressing the root causes of child labour and trafficking requires the engagement of a wide range of actors, in order to ensure the holistic provision of services.


  • The Ministry of Labour developed and produced a Jingle on the evils and ills of Child Labour and the need for its elimination in the country during the reporting period of June 2019- May 2020.
  • 18 victims of trafficking were supported with vocational/ economic life skills and starter kits at the household level by the International Organization on Migration (IOM) during the reporting period of June 2019- May 2020.
  • The Ministry of Women Affairs’ Child Development Department and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at the Federal and State levels and other stakeholders in 2019 provided medical care kits, economic empowerment and training on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) where over 457,353 vulnerable women and children became aware of their; dignity, health needs and strategies for discerning/avoiding sexual exploitation tendencies and violence.
  • In 2019, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) supported the Federal and affected State Ministries of Women Affairs in partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and affected State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) to reach out to flood victims with over 5700 relief items for women girls and pregnant women, including dignity kits and sleeping mats in temporary locations and local wrappers for the women in at least 5 states.
  • In 2019, the Ministry of Labour strengthened the inspection system by recruiting additional staff and bringing the total number of Labour Officers to 1,415 and Factory Officers to 724. Thereby increasing the number of Labour Inspections and Child Labour specific inspections nationwide. Out of these inspections, a total of 3,937 Child Labour violations were detected with 1,263 withdrawn from Child Labour and 1,494 children and their families empowered.


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“Addressing child labour, forced labour and human trafficking are key challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This is a collective responsibility by all stakeholders, which shows the importance of Alliance 8.7. Our children should be in school and not at work.”

Mr. William Alo, representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment
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