TBPs have several important characteristics. A TBP:

  • must be initiated and led by the country in terms of planning, implementation and resource mobilization;
  • must be comprehensive and fully integrated into national development plans;
  • involves the extensive participation of many stakeholders, including policy-makers, practitioners, workers’ and employers’ associations, and donors;
  • needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the specific circumstances of the country; and
  • must be underpinned by extensive data collection and analysis.

In addition, TBP interventions must be monitored and evaluated systematically to ensure effective and timely attainment of the goal of eliminating the WFCL. These characteristics are discussed below.

Country ownership

The primary responsibility for the development and implementation of TBPs lies with national agencies and institutions. A multi-sectoral programme of the scale of a TBP cannot be effectively and sustainably developed and implemented without full country ownership. It is the government’s responsibility to set the process of TBP development in motion, designate or establish the institutional mechanisms for its implementation, and mobilize the necessary human and financial resources. IPEC, with the support of the international community, can back this commitment with additional resources and technical assistance. IPEC’s role in programme development and implementation is one of catalyst, facilitator and provider of policy/technical assistance. National responsibility also includes the active participation of government agencies, the social partners and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Political support at the highest level of the country is the single most important element for smooth implementation and sustainability of a TBP. Strong political commitment is a critical prerequisite for the formulation of proactive policies and programmes; for the integration of the child labour issue into relevant national laws, development policies and programmes; and for the mobilization of national resources for the elimination of the WFCL.

A comprehensive and integrated approach

The TBP concept draws its raison d’être from the fact that child labour cannot be eliminated for good unless its root causes are addressed. The multi-sectoral nature of child labour’s causes and consequences calls for a comprehensive approach covering many social and economic sectors. Indeed, the ideal approach to the implementation of a TBP is to integrate, or “mainstream” it into the larger national development framework in which poverty alleviation objectives are being pursued in areas such as education, employment, income generation, social protection and health.

Mainstreaming also facilitates joint targeting with programmes in other areas of social and economic development, with the result that resources for other social goals can be leveraged to benefit victims of child labour and children at risk. TBP interventions should capitalize on synergies between sectors and stakeholders to ensure sustainability.

Broad-based participation

The TBP approach takes IPEC’s well-established participatory approach to a new level. It brings together government departments and agencies at central and local levels, workers’ and employers’ organizations, and NGO partners at different stages of programme preparation and implementation. Problem analysis, identification of areas and sectors of intervention, target setting, choice of strategies and implementation modalities, resource mobilization and other aspects of programme development require broad consultations among the key stakeholders. Moreover, the efficient and effective implementation of a TBP requires arrangements for multi-sectoral, multi-agency coordination mechanisms. These functions may be carried out within existing mechanisms where appropriate arrangements are already in place, or through the establishment of new mechanisms, if necessary.

The importance of having a strong social foundation for the TBP cannot be overemphasized. Also needed are: awareness and support, along with the active participation of children and their families, teachers, local communities, workers' and employers' organizations, NGOs, central and local governments and the media.


The number and types of interventions needed under a given TBP depend on the magnitude and complexity of the child labour problem, including the specific causes and consequences of the prevalent worst forms, the extent of policy gaps needing remedy in the short to medium term, and the adequacy of infrastructure and services for addressing the problem. The configuration of programme components also depends on the availability of human and financial resources, implementation capacity, and the extent of political and social support. These factors will also affect the amount of time needed to effectively deal with the problem.

In the light of the foregoing, a major principle underlying the approach is flexibility. The TBP concept is designed to take into account the variability of national situations with regard to the extent and nature of the WFCL, as well as differences in institutional and technical capacity. Depending on the extent of the child labour problem and the availability of human and financial resources, a TBP can start on a massive scale and aim to eliminate all WFCL within a relatively short period of time, or it can start on a relatively small scale and adopt a gradual roll-out plan covering a longer period. For example, the programme could focus initially on selected WFCL and extend gradually to other worst forms. Similarly, it could start in a few geographical areas and gradually scale up to cover the whole country. The speed of this expansion could be determined by the pervasiveness and severity of the problem of child exploitation and the availability of resources.

Planning based on solid data collection and analysis

An evidence-based approach for the development of TBPs is essential for proper programme design and more effective interventions. Thus the typical TBP development exercise includes:

  • preparatory studies assessing the extent and nature of child labour in key sectors and industries known to have child labour problems;
  • analysis of the causes and consequences of child labour;
  • policy reviews in areas such as labour law, legislation and enforcement, education and national economic development, including poverty reduction strategies;
  • occupational safety and health studies focusing on children; and
  • a “mapping” of the interventions and experiences of key partners in project and policy implementation.

Data analysis and policy reviews inform the identification of the forms of child labour requiring priority attention under the TBP, identification and use of indicators for target-setting, formulation of strategies and, subsequently, programme monitoring and evaluation. Systematic planning has also been promoted through the development of logical and strategic frameworks and analysis of the underlying risks and the assumptions that must be made in programme design. This approach is essential for the design of feasible, relevant and coherent programmes. It is also essential for assessing progress towards the attainment of programme goals and for evaluating the impact of interventions.

This increasing emphasis on data-based planning has been facilitated by the expansion of IPEC’s Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC) as a repository of information on child labour and as a provider of technical assistance for strengthening national capacities for child labour data collection and analysis. IPEC is encouraging and supporting better use of existing data, complemented by new data collection exercises using cost-efficient methods. This approach promotes a systematic analysis and utilization of data in policy and programme development and implementation.

Systematic programme monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are important components of the TBP. Effective monitoring and evaluation ensures that a TBP is dynamic and its objectives and approach can be fine-tuned when needed. It also provides future lessons for programme design. A TBP should have clearly defined indicators and targets and an efficient and cost-effective data management system for planning, monitoring and evaluation.