Combating Child Slavery

In Ghana, children as young as three are enslaved in the fishing industry, forced to do hard and dangerous work to earn a profit for their masters.

Ghana’s Lake Volta is the world’s largest manmade lake, covering 3,275 square miles, with thousands of children working in its massive fishing industry. An IJM assessment in 2013 indicated that more than half of the nearly 800 children interviewed were trafficked - the majority 10 years old or younger. Victims are forced rise before dawn to go out on the lake, diving down into the dark water to untangle fishing nets. Drowning and other hazards are a constant threat. They work long hours doing strenuous work, with no opportunity to go to school. One boy we rescued had been forced to continue hauling nets even after breaking his wrist. These children can expect no compassion from their masters, who maintain their control through violent beatings and withholding food.

IJM Ghana officially launched in September 2014, and in early 2015 we conducted our first rescue operation, rescuing ten children and leading to our first conviction in 2016. IJM supports Ghanaian authorities to rescue children, arrest and prosecute traffickers, and provide care to survivors so that they can recover and thrive.

Though this form of slavery is brutal, there is hope. The Ghanaian government has expressed its serious commitment to addressing slavery on Lake Volta, and is working with IJM to see that the laws are enforced to bring an end to this crime against children.

Together with our partners and supporters, we are ending slavery in Ghana.

Our Work Happens By



We partner with Philippine officials and international law enforcement agencies to identify and rescue children who are being sexually exploited in footage broadcast online.


Bringing criminals to justice

We collaborate with government prosecutors to ensure traffickers and others facilitating the abuse are brought to justice under ghana laws.



We create customized care plans for each survivor, and we work with the government social services agency and private aftercare providers to ensure children have a safe place to grow up in freedom.


Strengthening justice systems

Building on the strong success of our programs to combat child sex trafficking (2000–2015), we continue to advise, mentor and train officials so that impunity ends for criminals and children are protected from cybersex trafficking.

Our Progress

In 2013, we conducted an initial assessment on Lake Volta, which estimated that more than 57% of the nearly 800 children we personally observed on the lake were slaves.

Our leadership team mobilized to Ghana in September 2014 to launch the field office – IJM’s first office in West Africa.

IJM Ghana Offices

Hover overTap the dots to view details about each IJM office.

Learn More About the Issue

Child Slavery in Ghana

Thousands of children like Godson, Gideon and Foli* in Ghana live in slavery on Lake Volta. These children are between 6 and 18 years old and working up to 18 hours a day in the fishing industry. They are paid in daily abuse and threats, and the only way out is to drown or be rescued.

The Deep Place

One small boy. One huge lake. Foli was a slave. Immerse yourself in his story.


You have the power to stop forced labor slavery.

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Recent Stories

31 Free After Largest IJM Ghana Rescue to Date

Child rescued in Ghana

24 Children Forced to Work on Lake Volta Are Now Free

10 Boys Rescued from Slavery on Ghana's Lake Volta

*To protect IJM clients, we have used pseudonyms, obscured some images and included photos that do not depict actual victims where appropriate. Consent gathered for all images.