ILO and IPEC experience has shown that detailed and reliable data are crucial in setting targets and developing and implementing effective programmes on child labour. Since 1992, the ILO has taken the lead in developing methodological child labour sample surveys at national levels.
The survey methodologies were developed to enable countries to obtain benchmark statistics on children's work in general or to produce statistics on specific core variables. These methods were first tested in four countries (Ghana, India, Indonesia and Senegal). Following their refinement and recommendations for quantifying child labour, several countries collaborated with the Bureau of Statistics in adopting the methodologies and conducting national surveys for collecting comprehensive data.
Based on detailed results of the experiments and national child labour surveys conducted in several countries using the newly developed methodologies, the ILO was able to:
(i) produce regional and global estimates;
(ii) identify and quantify not only the different forms of hazard and risk working children face, but also the extent and nature of the injuries and diseases suffered while working; and
(iii) acquire much knowledge and experience, thereby enhancing considerably its competence for providing technical assistance to individual countries in designing and undertaking comprehensive child labour surveys, and processing, analysing and using the statistical data obtained for formulating and implementing appropriate action programmes to combat the worst forms of child labour at the national and global levels.
To obtain a complete picture of the child labour situation, the information sought through surveys at the national level involved answers to the following questions, among others:
• Who are the working children and how many are there in the various countries?
• How old are the children when they start to work for the first time and how do they live?
• Why do they work and in which sectors are they engaged?
• What are their specific occupations and the conditions of their work?
• What types of exploitation and abuse do they face at work?
• How safe are they physically and mentally at their workplace or in their occupations?
• Do they also go to school? If so, what are the consequences of their work on their schooling? And if they do not go to school, why not?
• Who are their employers? Why do they employ them? And how do they treat them in comparison with their adult workers?
• How many children are engaged on a full-time basis in housekeeping activities of a domestic nature in their own parents' or guardians' households, thereby sacrificing their education?
• Do any children live away from their parents' or guardians' home, and if so, where do they live and what do they do?
• What are the perceptions of parents about their working children? What are the perceptions of the children themselves and their employers?