World Day Against Child Labour

Children at risk of child labour in natural disasters

Viet Nam is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change. As disasters destroy livelihoods, children may give up school to work for their families’ survival.

News | 13 June 2017
HANOI (ILO News) – More frequent and severe natural disasters in Viet Nam due to climate change can push children into child labour if proper preventive measures are not taken, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned.

“As disasters destroy livelihoods and worsen households’ economic conditions, children may find themselves with no choice but to give up school and to work for their and their families’ survival,” said ILO Viet Nam Director Chang-Hee Lee.

As one of the world’s five countries most vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters in Viet Nam have recently become intense and increasingly hard to predict. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country suffered from more than 20 natural disasters in 2016 alone, including severe droughts, floods and salt water intrusion.

Meanwhile, nearly 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s population lives in rural areas and more than 40 per cent of the workforce are involved in agriculture, making them prone to disasters’ impacts in terms of labour, employment and social protection.

“Children are among the most vulnerable groups affected by natural disasters and climate change,” said Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Trong Dam, addressing a workshop on the prevention of child labour in natural disasters and climate change in Hanoi on 13 June. The event was co-organized by the ILO and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The Vice Minister added that Viet Nam has in place a legal framework and strategies to prevent and minimize natural disasters and impacts of climate change, as well as policies to help children and their families in emergency situations. The country also provides support to disasters-stricken families to cope with consequences.

“Authorities of all levels and social organizations need to join hands to protect children and prevent child labour in natural disasters,” he said.

The point was shared by John Hill, Economic Counsellor of the US Embassy in Hanoi, in his remarks at the event.

“Our ability to stop natural forces is limited. But we can fight the outcomes, together,” he said.

Meanwhile, the head of the ILO in Viet Nam called on collaboration on multiple domains of policies at different levels, including monetary support transfers, preparedness trainings, creation of community-wide support groups, and mechanisms for systematic checks on working conditions and safety in economic recovery programmes.

“Solutions should be directed at identifying particular issues and instances of child labour to improve co-ordination, monitoring and data collection regarding child protection and child labour,” he added.

Viet Nam has 1.75 million child labourers, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of the nation’s child population, as reported by the 2012 national survey on child labour conducted by the Vietnamese Government and the ILO.

In May 2017, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued the National Action Plan to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has a specific target aiming to end child labour in all its forms by 2025. Viet Nam was also one of the countries in the world initiating discussions to form Alliance 8.7, a network bringing together all interested parties in achieving Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to tackle child labour, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.

The workshop was organized under the framework of the Enhancing National Capacity to Prevent and Reduce Child Labour in Viet Nam (ENHANCE) project in response to the 2017 World Day Against Child Labour. The project is funded by the US Department of Labor.