HHH Prof. Levison on child labor: "Fetching Water & Firewood in Tanzania"

The European Journal of Development Research
pp 1–18

Implications of Environmental Chores for Schooling: Children’s Time Fetching Water and Firewood in Tanzania

Deborah Levison, Humphrey School of Public Affairs University of Minnesota
Deborah S. DeGraff, Dept of Economics, Bowdoin College
Esther W. Dungumaro, Institute of Development Studies, University of Dar-es-Salaam

Cite this article as: Levison, D., DeGraff, D.S. & Dungumaro, E.W. Eur J Dev Res (2017). doi:10.1057/s41287-017-0079-2


In many developing countries, children devote substantial time to collecting firewood and fetching water. Is there a connection between such time-consuming work and children’s schooling? If so, environmental degradation may have serious detrimental implications for children’s education. To explore this question, this case study set in rural Tanzania uses evidence collected from children and their mothers about children’s environmental chores. Although the sample is small, we find some descriptive quantitative evidence as well as qualitative evidence from focus groups with children supporting such a link, consistent with the results from the few econometric analyses set in Africa. We also document substantial demands by schools for students to fetch water. The proposed conceptual framework takes into account confounding factors including school-related violence, which affected more than one-third of the children in this study. We make a case for future research based on larger data collection projects designed to explore these issues more fully.

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