Child labour by area of residence (ages 5-17)

Source: Uganda National Household Survey, 2016/17 report.

In Uganda, child labour involving children aged 5 to 17 is estimated at 14% and concentrated in rural areas. Involvement does not differ widely by between boys and girls (15.4% versus 11.9%).

Children perform a wide range of activities, including in agriculture—herding cattle, cultivating and harvesting cocoa, coffee, corn and other crops, and acting as scarecrows in rice fields—construction, manufacturing, domestic service, and street work.

In some cases, child labour is forced labour. In others, it is the result of human trafficking. Some children engage in commercial sexual exploitation and perform dangerous tasks in the gold mining industry.


Involvement in hazardous work by gender

Involvement in hazardous work by gender
Source: Uganda National Household Survey, 2016/17 report



Uganda ratifies the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention.


Uganda promulgates the Employment Act No. 6, which prohibits the employment of children in any work that is dangerous or injurious to the child’s health. It also launches the National Child Labour Policy, aimed at mainstreaming child labour concerns into development programs.


Uganda launches the National Action Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The objective of the NAP is to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and at the same time lay a firm foundation for children’s rights to be respected, protected, and fulfilled. A Counter-Trafficking in Persons and an inter-ministerial Task Force to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts are created.


Uganda adopts the Children (Amendment) Act, which establishes age 16 as the minimum age for work and criminalizes the use of a child for commercial sexual exploitation.


  • Engage in advocacy and awareness-raising. Awareness-raising activities, including through media campaigns, will be required. Strategic meetings with key stakeholders at the national and district levels should be carried out, to advocate for the inclusion of this issue in relevant policies and programmes. District action plans on child labour and child protection must be developed and implemented. Child labour committees should be formed at all levels.
  • Provide capacity building for relevant actors at all levels. More labour officers need to be recruited, trained, and provided with sufficient resources. Other relevant actors in child protection, social protection, education, and the labour market should be trained on child labour issues. Exchange visits for learning should be organized.
  • Strengthen social protection. The Universal Primary Education policy needs to be revised, and adequate laws and ordinances for child protection need to be put in place. In addition, decent work and livelihoods services for adults and youth of working age should be strengthened to ensure that family incomes do not rely on child labour.
  • Enhance the knowledge base. Relevant research on child labour should be stimulated, and their findings widely disseminated. To ensure that knowledge and information are readily available for action, a national child labour information management system should be put in place. Advocacy messages should be developed accordingly.
  • Improve the legal framework and enforcement. Current gaps in the legislation need to be addressed and existing laws against child labour need to be widely disseminated. Effective law enforcement should include a renewed focus on child labour inspection.
  • Focus on prevention. The legal framework against forced labour and human trafficking should be strengthened through the ratification of the Palermo Protocol. The National Action Plan on trafficking should be updated, and a new National Action Plan on business and human rights should be developed. For populations at risk, an adequate profiling system should be developed. Activities targeting economic empowerment and job creation should be developed, and the scope of skilling projects should be increased.
  • Step up policy efforts to protect vulnerable populations. External labour migration should be properly monitored, and Memoranda of Understanding that guarantee mutual legal assistance for victims of trafficking should be established. Effective reporting mechanisms should be linked with the national referral mechanism. Alternative livelihoods, as well as psychosocial and rehabilitation centers, should be provided for victims.
  • Improve the prosecution of cases of trafficking and forced labour. Domestic laws on trafficking and forced labour must be harmonized, and extradition agreements must be established for the prosecution of perpetrators across borders. Relevant agencies’ capacities should be reinforced.
  • Bolster partnerships and cooperation. The national coordination office against trafficking should be strengthened, and local offices for coordination created. Cooperation among stakeholders should be reinforced by establishing more bilateral and multilateral agreements regarding trafficking in persons, as well as through pertinent research.

Next steps

  • Ensure the functioning of the national coordination committee, which has been constituted under the leadership of the Ministry of Labour. It will monitor the actions taken and provide appropriate follow-up. Moreover, the committee will establish checks and ensure the continued flow of activities.

  • Establish sub-committees on child labour, human trafficking, and  forced labour, respectively.


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“The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is committed to working with Alliance 8.7 in strengthening all its frameworks and calls upon NOTU, FUE and other stakeholders to join the government to analyze and advice provide feedback on issues of child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking.”

Ms. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, Hon State Minister, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development
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