The Program to End Modern Slavery (PEMS) is pioneering approaches to combat human trafficking by combining cutting-edge research with targeted programming to rigorously test prevalence research methods and the effectiveness of human trafficking interventions.
The primary goal of PEMS-funded interventions is to show a measurable reduction in human trafficking within the specific countries and geographic areas, industries, or populations where PEMS programs operate. There is often a lack of established evidence on what types of programs work best to reduce specific forms of human trafficking, coupled with uncertain estimates about how many individuals might be experiencing trafficking within a given population. PEMS projects conduct baseline quantitative and qualitative research at the beginning of a project to inform program design, understand the trafficking context, and contribute to the growing field of rigorous prevalence research on human trafficking. After programming has concluded, PEMS projects assess the outcomes of interventions to build the evidence base of what activities effectively reduce human trafficking around the world.
The PEMS program began in 2017 and has funded $150 million in programming to date. Current programming is taking place in 24 countries around the world.
Current Programs and Research
The Freedom Fund received a $7 million award in 2019 to reduce the prevalence of domestic servitude among women and girls in Ethiopia and in the migration corridor to the Middle East. The Freedom Fund is working with local organizations and government stakeholders in Addis Ababa and Amhara.
GFEMS received a $21 million dollar grant in 2018 to scale up programming efforts begun under a previous PEMS award. GFEMS is working to administer sub-grants in India, Kenya, Uganda, and Vietnam that address sex trafficking and forced labor. This grant will end in December 2022. In 2021, GFEMS received $5 million for programming to reduce forced labor in Brazil’s agriculture sector through interventions targeting the coffee industry in the state of Minas Gerais. GFEMS’ work in Brazil will comprehensively address critical gaps with a group of coordinated, synergistic interventions, including a grievance mechanism available to workers and a decision support tool to improve the targeting of labor inspections.
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) received a $5.6 million award in 2020 to increase the evidence base on the effectiveness of anti-trafficking interventions around the world. IPA is working with partner organizations to conduct impact evaluations and randomized control trials testing the effectiveness of anti-trafficking programming. In 2022, IPA received an additional $2.3 million to develop an evidence lab in Nigeria. This program will support the Nigerian government as it aims to target anti-trafficking programming more effectively within the country.
International Labour Organization
(October 2022- March 2024)
The International Labour Organization (ILO) received $2 million in 2022 to develop operational definitions, methodologies, and uniform guidance for the measurement of trafficking in persons based on the United Nations Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons and the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act and forced labor based on the International Labour Organization Conventions on Forced Labour. This guidance will help facilitate prevalence estimations and allow both researchers and practitioners better understand the nature of human trafficking with a coordinated set of research tools.
International Organization for Migration
(October 2022 – September 2024)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) received $2.3 million to address human trafficking in Kenya that exists due to vulnerabilities and displacement exacerbated by climate change. IOM will employ a variety of livelihood support models in order to build economic resilience in communities facing economic insecurity due to climate change. Additionally, IOM will work to create awareness of human trafficking among specified populations. The program will pilot a range of interventions through a phased approach and refine program activities based on the outcomes of randomized interventions.
New York University
(October 2022 – September 2027)
This $5.5 million, five-year intervention implemented by New York University in India will leverage Community Health Workers (CHWs) to identify trafficking victims among members of the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNTs) and assist them in accessing support, including access to identity documents, legal advice, alternative income and vocational training, as well as social services. The project will use a cluster-based randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of the proposed interventions.
Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) received an $8.5 million award to reduce forced labor in the cattle industry in Pará, Brazil through coordinated efforts that include awareness-raising, building law enforcement and employer capacity, and increasing access to victim-centered protection services. PADF will also work to increase government capacity to collect data, to enhance coordination among agencies, and provide victim-centered services. All these efforts will be tailored based on research PADF will conduct to better understand the nature of forced labor in the cattle industry.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) received a $2.5 million award in 2021 to develop a better understanding of forced labor within the gold mining sector of Pará, Brazil, filling a critical knowledge gap and informing future anti-trafficking efforts. Research will include a prevalence study, analysis of the supply and value chains of gold mining, and an examination of the convergence of forced labor with other criminal activities.
The University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGA) has received a total of $25.9 million through PEMS awards. UGA is working to reduce the prevalence of child sex trafficking in Guinea, Senegal, and Sierra Leone by conducting targeted prevalence baselines and developing programming that builds on this research. UGA is also conducting human trafficking prevalence estimates through the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum (PRIF) in Brazil, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Tunisia. The PRIF aims to build a global community of researchers in the science of human trafficking prevalence estimation with a focus on documenting the efficacy of various methodological approaches. In 2022, UGA received a $2.2 million award to address financial inclusion of labor trafficking survivors and those at risk of labor trafficking in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. Through a phased approach, the program will create and strengthen financial savings groups for survivors returning from South Africa and vulnerable youth considering moving to South Africa by first focusing on a robust research framework.
The Warnath Group received a $15 million award in 2020 to combat child sex trafficking in the Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces of Costa Rica. The Warnath Group is working on prevalence measurement in these provinces and programming activities that focus on intensive training and technical assistance for Costa Rican government officials, particularly criminal justice professionals and social service providers.
(October 2022 – June 2024)
Received $1.5 million to address trafficking through the lens of public health in South Africa by developing locally adapted core standards of care as well as a toolkit for service providers. Washington University will bolster their approach through heatmaps to better understand risk vulnerabilities and resource allocation in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
(October 2022 – July 2026)
Winrock International will use their $7.9 million award to focus on human trafficking caused by climate change in Bangladesh, particularly within the farming and fishing industries. Winrock will integrate anti-trafficking policies into existing government plans to address climate change, while also building the capacity of vulnerable communities. The program will conduct research to better understand the link between climate change and human trafficking and use a phased approach for activities in order to determine their effectiveness.
Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum Expansion (PRIF)
In 2021, the TIP Office issued six awards for the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum (PRIF) expansion initiative. Local organizations in Costa Rica, Brazil, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Tunisia will build on research conducted by the PEMS-funded Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum and create targeted programs to reduce human trafficking. Each program will pair researchers with organizations and the teams will evaluate the impact of these programs on reducing the prevalence of human trafficking in those countries. Details of each project can be found below.
Freedom Fund received $1.3 million to focus on efforts to reduce child sex trafficking in Recife and Olinda, Brazil. This project will promote government and civil society coordination in preventing child sex trafficking, develop and share evidence on the prevalence of child sex trafficking with multi-sectoral partners, and increase child protection through comprehensive survivor-informed care and prevention efforts.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice received two awards in 2021: $1.6 million to address forced labor in Costa Rica’s artisanal fishing sector, and $1.3 million to reduce forced labor among domestic workers in Tanzania. In Costa Rica, John Jay will work alongside local partners to address forced labor in the Gulf of Nicoya. The program will focus on capacity development to identify and safely refer possible victims of trafficking and empower at-risk communities to know their rights and to access legal aid. In Tanzania, John Jay and local partners will work in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam to reduce forced labor among domestic workers through pre-departure education for workers, and the education of community-based organizations to assist victims.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health received $1.3 million to partner with local organizations to address forced labor in the brick-kiln industry within the Sindh Province of Pakistan. The program will provide workers with direct services along with awareness-raising and capacity building activities for law enforcement, bar associations, trade unions, and other key stakeholders.
The Stanford University Human Trafficking Data Lab received $1.3 million to develop and deploy advanced technology to detect forced labor in the charcoal industry in Pará, Brazil. Additional aims include the development of broad multispecialty teams as well as advocacy to provide support for survivors and vulnerable communities.
The University of Massachusetts—Lowell received $1.4 million for their project focused on reducing human trafficking among domestic workers in Tunisia by building the capacity of justice sector professionals and providing trauma-informed services for survivors. The program will focus on training and capacity-building for policymakers, legal professionals, local stakeholders, and civil society organizations, as well as an information-sharing campaign for policymakers.