Economically active children and child labour (ages 5-17)

Source:ILO calculations, based on MICS4 (2011) and MICS5 (2015)

3 million children between the ages of 5 and 17—12.2% of this age group—were in child labour in 2017. This represents a significant increase, compared with 8.5% of these children in 2012.

Children in rural areas are more than three times as likely to be in child labour (17.6%) than children in urban areas (4.9%). Many children and adults in Mauritania, especially from the Haratine ethnic minority, are exploited in forced labour, particularly in rural and remote areas of the country.

Some children are born into forced labour, while others are born free but remain in a dependent status. They are often forced to work with their parents for their former masters in exchange for food, money, and lodging. Children in forced labour herd animals, such as cattle and goats, perform domestic labour, and are often sexually exploited. Mauritania is both a source and a destination country for trafficking, particularly of children.



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

Source:ILO calculations, based on MICS 5



Mauritania ratifies the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. The country commits to taking measures against transnational organized crime.


Mauritania adopts theNational Plan of Action for the Elimination of Child Labour. The country joins the Bridge project, funded by the US Department of Labor, which aims to strengthen the capacity of relevant ministries and stakeholders to develop, implement, and monitor policies and national action plans on forced labour, provide capacity building to improve law enforcement, and support public awareness campaigns to address all forms of forced labour.


Mauritania becomes one of the first countries to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.


  • Revise the policy framework against forced labour and child labour. The impact of conflict and violence, as well as the forced return of migrants, must be better reflected in the national policy framework. Children of migrants should be granted access to education. Adults and youth above the minimum age should be provided with legal remedies in cases of non-payment of wages. The governance and oversight of the informal sector must be improved.
  • Establish a list of hazardous work. A list of hazardous work is required as a basis for an integrated strategy to remove youth from intrinsically hazardous jobs or, where appropriate measures can be taken, toward eliminating the hazardous conditions.
  • Disseminate existing legislation on child labour. A media campaign for the propagation of the Labour Code and the General Code on Child Protection should be implemented.
  • Provide capacity building for child protection system actors on mainstreaming child labour issues. A wide range of child protection services such as psychosocial support, family tracing, reunification, and reintegration supported through case management might be needed.
  • Train labour inspectors and workers’ representatives on child labour. Both labour inspectors and workers’ representatives have important roles and should be offered training on the prevention and identification child labour, especially in its worst forms.
  • Carry out a pilot intervention in a specific sector or supply chain for the reintegration of children removed from the worst forms of child labour. Child labour-free communities should be created in the areas where their supply chains operate, particularly in dairy farming and artisanal fishing.
  • Empower refugees and build the resilience of local populations. The resilience of host communities and refugees must be improved. Particular attention should be given to the Bassiknou Region (Moughataa), where new activities related to supply chains in dairy farming and livestock should be undertaken to boost employment and livelihoods.
  • Develop an appropriate legal framework for the protection of refugees. An adequate legal framework against exploitation in child labour or forced labour is currently missing in Mauritania, and must be developed.
  • Seek additional financial resources. Additional resources for policies and programmes protecting refugees against forced labour and child labour are required.
  • Mainstream child labour and forced labour in the National Access to Justice Strategy. Relevant measures include the implementation of Law No. 2015-030, the operationalization of legal aid offices, the national mobilization of all key actors, and fiscal foresight for the public financing of aid.
  • Adopt an appropriate legal framework. The scope of the law must be broadened to include legal aid, and the procedural safeguards against forced labour, trafficking, and child labour must be harmonized. In addition, the legal framework for the overall protection of children needs to be strengthened.


Child Labour

  • List of Hazardous work for children was finalized

Human Trafficking

  • National Action Plan against Human Trafficking was adopted.
  • Two draft laws were submitted to parliament:
    • “Draft law on the prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons and the protection of victims”
    • “Draft law for the modification of certain provisions of Law No. 2010- 021 of February 10, 2010 relating to the fight against the smuggling of migrants”.

Child Labour in supply chains

Elimination of child labour in the dairy and artisanal fisheries sectors

Since May 2020 two of the Mauritania’s regions (Wilayas) have been targeted, Guidimakha and Trarza.  The Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MFPT), Ministry of Livestock (MEL), Ministry of Social Affairs, Childhood and Family (MASEF) coordinated tripartite missions and two regional workshops were organised, in connection with strategic axes N°2 and 3 of the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour in Mauritania (PANETE -RIM 2015-2020).


Protection of migrant workers in Mauritania and elsewhere

The safe management of migration is the current priority of the government and its main development partners. Mauritania has a national migration management strategy, but it is under review to take into account new contexts in its governance, including the Marrakech Pact on Migration, adopted at the end of 2018, and Mauritania’s ratification of Convention No. 143 on 23 September 2019

Human Trafficking

Rule of law and governance: Legal and policy frameworks, including access to justice and the right to effective remedies. Establishment of accountability institutions at national level

To combat human trafficking, the Government has adopted the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons (PANTP). This action plan addresses all aspects related to the issue of trafficking. It provides the Government with an integrated planning instrument to fight effectively and sustainably against this scourge. The government adopted a decree n°01197, the law 2015 -031 on the criminalisation of slavery and the law 2004-17 on the Labour Code. Mauritania has adopted a strategy for the protection of the child, the general code for the protection of the child

Next steps

  • Development of a list of hazardous work for children

  • Multiplication of the list of hazardous work for children

  • Training and awareness raising activities on this list


  • 17 Jul 2019
    family work

    Accelerating action to end forced labour, human trafficking, modern slavery and child labour; experiences from Alliance 8.7 pathfinder countries Th..

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  • 17 Jul 2019
    family work

    In the margins of the High Level Political Forum, the Alliance 8.7 Global Coordinating Group held their 5th meeting at the Westin Hotel in New York. ..

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  • 14 May 2019
    family work

    The Second Global Meeting of the Action Group on Supply Chains was held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on 14-15 May, 2019 gathering over 140 participants...

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  • 04 Mar 2019
    family work

    Mauritania held the third Pathfinder Country Strategic Planning workshop on 4th March, 2019. The National Focal Point for Alliance 8.7 in Mauritania, ..

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“The ambitions of the Alliance have become concrete realities because this Alliance currently offers a forum for partners to exchange information, experiences and lessons learned and to observe the degree of progress that has taken place in these areas.”

Seydina Ali Ould Mohamed Khouna, Minister of Public Service, Labour, Employment, and Administration Modernisation
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