A Study on child labor in three major towns of southern Ethiopia


  • Solomon Sorsa
  • Alemu Abera


Abstract Background: As is the case with other developing countries of the world, child labor is also a problem in Ethiopia. However, there is shortage of data concerning the working and living conditions of child laborers in Ethiopia, and their problems in the various administrative regions of the country. Objective: To assess the reasons for the exploitation of child labor, and the nature and magnitude of problems encountered by child laborers. Method: Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed in three purposely selected towns (Awassa, Wolaita Soddo, and Arbaminch) in SNNPR from February to May 2003. Result: A total of 323 child laborers participated in the survey. About 42.0% of children were below the age of 14 years and were engaged in employed labor. None of the child laborers interviewed was at school during the study period. The reasons for child labor included poverty (60.7%), loss of parents (17.3%), disagreement with parents (8.4%), parental separation (6.5%), shortage of food (5.3%) and displacement due to war (1.5%). Almost all of the respondents' parents had a low level rank occupation with 64.0% having a monthly income of less than 50 birr and 79.0% of the respondents reported that they were from poor families. Among the respondents, 51.1% were domestic child laborers, 22.6% were street child laborers and 18.3% were working in private organizations. Two-thirds of the child laborers were working for more than 10 hours a day and 82.0% of them had a daily income of less than five birr. About half of them stayed in the job for more than two years and most of them did not visit their parents or relatives for long periods of time. Eightyfour percent of them reported previously encountering one or more health problems. Malaria-like illnesses and diarrhoeal diseases were the major health problems reported. About 19.0% of them were sexually active, yet 22.6% of them have never heard about HIV/AIDS. About three-quarters of them did not attend any kind of health education program. The majority (77.4%) of them had never heard of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Conclusion: The study indicated that child laborers are denied the liberating benefit of education; their health, growth and development are threatened; and that they have lost the love and affection, care and protection of their families; and could not enjoy the rest and recreation that are the rights of every child. [Ethiop.J.Health Dev. 2006;20(3):184193]




How to Cite

Sorsa, S., & Abera, A. (2016). A Study on child labor in three major towns of southern Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 20(3). Retrieved from https://www.ejhd.org/index.php/ejhd/article/view/611