Ending Slavery on Lake Volta

11 October 2015 by Caitlyn

Lake Volta is a site of systemic modern slavery: children are forced to work as slaves in the area’s fishing industry. Traffickers prey upon vulnerable families, tricking parents into thinking that their children will have the opportunity to attend school in exchange for a few hours of work. Instead the children are sold into a life of misery and suffering, forced to work 19-hour days in deplorable conditions, and likely never to see their parents again. Children are used as cheap, malleable and easily disposable sources of labor, and they are forced to engage in tasks that often leave them permanently disabled and disfigured, or even dead.

Tomnod has teamed-up with the Global Fund to End Slavery to track the location and number of boats used for fishing around Lake Volta, providing for the first time a reliable estimate of the extent of slavery in the region. This invaluable data allows humanitarian groups in the region to target resources and action where they are needed most, freeing children from slavery and preventing more from entering into it.

Click here to start mapping fishing activity

Lake Volta is an 8,502 km2 reservoir behind the Akosombo Dam in Ghana. Very little information exists as to the exact prevalence of slavery in the fishing sector around Lake Volta. A Ghana Child Labor Survey estimates that 35,000 children are involved in the fishing sector around Lake Volta and a significant portion of these children are suspected to work under conditions of modern slavery.

Lake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake.
Lake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake.

Helping put an end to child slavery on Lake Volta is part of a much larger global anti-slavery initiative. “According to the International Labor Organization, there are over 168 million children involved in slave labour around the world. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work,” explained Martina Ucnikova, Strategic Partnerships Executive with Global Fund.

By searching DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of Lake Volta and placing a tag on every boat, building and fish cage you find, you are helping to create a valuable data set that, for the first time, will begin to provide an understanding of the modern slavery landscape in this area of the world.

Traditional boats used for fishing on Lake Volta.
Traditional boats used for fishing on Lake Volta.

Traditional fishing boats on Lake Volta look similar to the ones in the image above. It’s important to tag all boats, whether they are active on the water or anchored along the shoreline. Tagging each building you see also helps by highlighting the areas of human activity. Click here to view additional example images and begin tagging boats, buildings, and fish cages.

Your contributions to this campaign directly affect the Global Fund to End Slavery’s mission of ending child slavery on Lake Volta.

Caitlyn is the crowdsourcing manager at Tomnod. She engages the Tomnod community and unleashes their help to crowdsource the world.