Since its inception, WAO-Afrique has worked to promote and protect children’s rights in general, and in particular the right to be free from all forms of sexual and economic exploitation, and free from the threat of trafficking.


The principal objectives of WAO-Afrique are as follows:

  • Build the capacity of children’s rights NGOs;
  • Initiate studies and research on the violation of children’s rights;
  • Assist in the process of harmonisation of national legislation with international legal instruments pertaining to the rights of the child ;
  • Promote and reinforce peace and political and social stability;
  • Promote education on human rights in general, and children’s rights in particular;
  • Encourage the engagement of civil society in the fight against all forms of exploitation of children;
  • Defend and promote economic, social and cultural rights.


WAO-Afrique’s actions can be grouped along three principle axis:

  • Increase the knowledge of the public about the different forms of exploitation of children through studies, awareness raising campaigns, lobbying relevant authorities, information and training;
  • Improve the well-being of child victims through rehabilitation and reintegration;
  • Take action to strengthen legislation, ensure its effective application through legal assistance, and lobby for the harmonisation of national legislation with international legal instruments that have been ratified by the state governments in West and Central Africa.


WAO-Afrique began as the African branch of WAO (World Association for Orphans), a Belgian non-governmental organisation established in 1985. WAO-Afrique became autonomous in 1990 and on August 30 of the same year, signed a draft treaty with the Togolese government. The Secretariat is located in Lomé, Togo.

The main thrust of activities in the period 1990-1996 were social mobilisation, awareness raising, lobbying, the removal of children from exploitative situations as well as their rehabilitation and reintegration. Since 1996, WAO-Afrique has played a co-coordinating role in the sub-region, particularly with regard to actions and initiatives pertaining to child domestic workers.

The impact of WAO-Afrique’s programmes is increasingly being acknowledged on the international stage. In March 1995, WAO-Afrique obtained consultative status with the African Commission for Human Rights, following the presentation of contemporary forms of slavery in Africa, a case study of Togo, at the 16th Session of the Commission.

The expertise of the Executive Director in tackling exploitative practices and children’s rights violations has led to his appointment to the International Council of the Global Campaign for Education in 1998; election to the Executive Committee for ECPAT International in 2002; and membership to the Consultative Committee of the International Cocoa Initiative. Additionally, he has been invited to present reports on the situation of human rights, particularly children’s rights, in Africa at an international level.


The Executive Director of WAO-Afrique is M. Cléophas Mally. The Board of Directors is comprised of sub-regional and international representatives, and oversees all activities of the organisation. The 7 member Board is chaired by M. Michel Chabirand. Staff at the Secretariat includes a social worker, a lawyer, an economist, a specialist in education, and a registered nurse.