Recent data from UNICEF, the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank estimates that 168 million children aged 5 to 17 are engaged in child labour.

In Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal there is a high prevalence of child labour and modern slavery. These low-income, fragile states face multiple challenges like poverty, climate change, poor education, political instability and civil conflict - all attributing factors to child labour. In Bangladesh and Nepal, the prevalence of child labour is disproportionately higher in marginalised groups. There are higher rates of girls, and children of poor or rural families engaged in child labour.

The project work is from a consortium of organisations committed to building a strong evidence base and generate innovative solutions to the worst forms of child labour in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal.

The problem 

Millions of children in Bangladesh and Nepal are trapped in child labour. They are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

In Bangladesh and Nepal, over 1,900,000 children engage in hazardous child labour. Hazardous child labour is working for long hours (more that 42 a week), in dangerous, unsafe and unhealthy environments, with serious risk of injury, illness, or death. In some cases, these children are involved in the worst forms of child labour modern slavery or bonded labour, human trafficking, sex work and sexual exploitation, drugs and muling. The worst forms of child labour is any job that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

In Bangladesh, 1,280,000 children engage in hazardous labour. Manufacturing, factories, agriculture, fishing, and land/ river sectors have the highest prevalence of child labour. Marginalised groups of children, - female, poor, and/ or rural children - are more vulnerable to child labour. Children from poor and/or rural families are more likely to engage in the labour market sooner because of family pressures and accepted social norms. Domestic work is prevalent in Bangladesh, particularly for girls. 13% of all girl child labourers are domestic workers compared to 2% for boys. Child domestic workers work 50 hours a week while in other economic activities work on average 35 hours a week. Domestic workers are often invisible, increasing their vulnerability (Bangladesh Child Labour Survey 2013).

In Nepal, of the 3,140,000 children employed, 621,000 children are estimated to engage in hazardous work, equal to 40% of the working children. Through rates of child labour are decreasing new sectors are emerging such as trafficking, street vending highway/ hawking, and petty crime. Girls are more likely to work than boys though more likely to work in hazardous conditions. It is estimated that 60% of girls working are working in hazardous conditions. Some girls work in the adult industry, as night entertainer or sex workers, some are forced into sex work, or victims of sexual exploitation or trafficking (ILO Child Labour Nepal Fact Sheet).

Our partners 

Child Labour Action Research in South and Southeast Asia (CLARISSA) is a consortium of charities and organisations. The lead agency in the consortium is the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Other main partners are Terre des Hommes and the Consortium for Street Children.

ChildHope’s role is collaboration with our local partners Grambangla in Bangladesh and Voice of Children in Nepal.

Project objectives 

CLARISSA aims to develop innovative ways to increase options for children to avoid engagement in hazardous exploitative labour. Children’s voices will be at the centre of the work. child participation

Children and young people, alongside their families and communities, will tell us what drives them into modern slavery and the worst forms of child labour. When more is understood about the causes, the project will develop interventions to counteract them.

The aim is to decrease the number of children in the worst forms of child labour in Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar and support them in having a safe childhood.

  • Child-centred approach and child-led solutions. Encouraging child participation and supporting children in decision-making process
  • Research action of key drivers of modern slavery and the worst forms of child labour and developing interventions to counteract them
  • Investigate linkages between poverty and gender, rural living and child labour and causality to the above mentioned
  • Understand family pressures and social norms contributing to child labour
  • Find practical solutions to child-labour free supply chains
  • Build a body of knowledge and research to inform policy and policy makers, governments, NGOs, businesses and communities.

Our activities 

We will generate activities and interventions through a large-scale action research process. Interventions will range from small scale solutions to local problems, behavior change initiatives, and large-scale pilots.

Action research is designed to enable diverse groups to meet over a period to consider evidence and generate theories of change about interventions; plan and programme innovative solutions; test the solutions in real time, and then evaluate them. In this way action research groups act as engines of innovation. These cycles of action and reflection continue until a robust model of action is developed, trialed and can be scaled. We will link multiple and parallel action research groups to form a sophisticated architecture for adaptive learning and management systemic action research) and will ensure that children are central to this process.

Children themselves will be active participants in identifying issues and looking for solutions to tackle child labour. We will use participatory action research approaches with children, young people and adults to identify problems and test solutions.

We aim to increase family income in order to reduce the need for children to work, as we know that the lack of money in a family is a main factor in child labour. Alongside this, we need to look at access to essential support services such as health and education. We also need to better understand what other factors, assumptions, attitudes and behaviours result in children’s involvement in the worst forms of child labour. We aim to find what drives children to work and seek realistic ways to reduce this.

*The project is run in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, ChildHope is only working in Bangladesh and Nepal under this project.

Our donor 

CLARISSA is a £15mn consortium project which is funded by DFID UK and led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Brighton UK.

Learn more about the Asia Consortium project

Department for International Development

Institute of Development Studies

UN Sustainability Development Goals

  • SDG - No Poverty
  • SDG - Zero Hunger
  • SDG - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG - Quality Education
  • SDG - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
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