According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually, with many more trafficked within the borders of their own countries. The practice is fuelled by demand for cheap labour in a number of sectors, including for domestic workers.

In Cameroon, migration both to and within the country has led many people, including women and minors (under 18 years), to perform domestic work in order to improve their standard of living. While the government has ratified a number of international treaties against human trafficking, including the UN Convention against Transnational and Organized Crime, the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention (C189) has not yet been ratified. The area is still largely governed by an obsolete decree from 1968.

Working in an under-regulated sector and with a poor grasp of any rights and entitlements they may have, migrant domestic workers frequently face situations of exploitation, moral and physical abuse, and employment under illegal working arrangements.

Wasafiri was contracted by the IOM to support Cameroon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Labour and Social Security in a bid to strengthen their capacity to deal with the consequences of trafficking in domestic workers. The assistance included conducting a feasibility study on ratification of the C189 Convention, so as to facilitate government approval of the same. Wasafiri also developed tools such as standard operating procedures and designed a communications strategy and materials (including sensitisation leaflets, posters, and so on), as well as training modules. These will help raise awareness and equip relevant stakeholders with skills to provide assistance in cases of abuse and exploitation.

Expert advice was also provided by Wasafiri to top ministry officials on wider issues associated with migration and human trafficking.