On 8 May, Youssoufa Diallo participates in an automobile mechanics class, part of vocational training services offered at Agence Nationale Pour L’Emploi (National Agency for Employment) in Dori, the capital of Sahel Region. “I used to work in the mine at Bani,” he said, “looking for gold for money to buy food.” He is now in his third year of training at the centre and would like to open a workshop in the next year. As part of its vocational training services, the Agency also offers classes in dressmaking, tailoring, carpentry and welding.

In May 2014 in Burkina Faso, child labour continues to act as a barrier to the full fulfilment of children’s rights. According to the latest figures, some 39 per cent of the country’s children aged 5–14 years are involved in labour. One such form of labour – working in artisanal gold mines – leaves children exposed to numerous risks such as injuries and accidents or illness and disease, including of the respiratory system. Children are also vulnerable to missing out on an education or being exposed to sexual abuse and physical and economic exploitation. According to a 2010 study conducted by UNICEF and the Government of Burkina Faso, almost 20,000 children were found to be working in the artisanal gold sites surveyed, and more than 80 per cent of them had never been to school. However, as data on child labor is hard to obtain, it is likely that the number of children working in mines across Burkina Faso is significantly higher. To tackle this issue, UNICEF, in partnership with NGO Terre des Hommes and the Government, has been working in five regions where child labour rates are highest to place children in career training centres and schools.