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.


  • Uganda has taken the following actions to strengthen protection and prevention against Child Labour, Forced Labour and Human trafficking
    • Uganda and Kenya are currently in advanced stages of finalizing a memorandum of understanding on inter-country collaboration to combat cross border trafficking.
    • Uganda signed a bilateral agreement with United Arab Emirates to ensure protection of its migrant workers In June 2019, to ensure the protection and welfare of its migrant workers. In the recent past, countries in the Arabian Gulf have been notorious for cases of Working group on child labour trafficking and modern slavery, and this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is very timely.
    • The approval in August 2019 of the National Action Plan on Elimination of the Worst forms of Child Labour in Uganda (2017/2018 – 2021/2022),
    • The revision or development of District Action Plans,
    • The finalisation of the National action plan for Prevention of Trafficking of persons and presentation to Cabinet for approval
  • Awareness activities led to rescuing 63 children in Kawempe and Kayunga from child labour and to the formation of a cross-border committee of authorities in Uganda and Kenya targeting cross boarder trafficking of children and persons.
  • Uganda strengthened its knowledge base by conducting a baseline survey on child labour in the Albertine region and disseminating research on child labour in the coffee growing areas of Zombo District. Different stakeholders were encouraged to conduct research and as a result, the following studies were developed: one on barriers and enablers for adolescents to access decent work, another one by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and, finally, a study on child labour and gender in sugar cane growing by Global March Uganda and National Organization of Trade unions (NOTU).
  • Uganda included indicators on migration have been in the National Development Plan III​


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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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