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Child Labour Elimination

Centre for Youth and Development implemented a Pilot “Child Labour Elimination through Awareness Project (CLEAP)” project to eliminate child labour in the bwengu area in Malawi.

The challenge

The child labour problem is a global phenomenon: it is estimated that approximately 220 million children are engaged in child labour and of these 26% are in southern Africa. Nearly three-quarters of working children are engaged in the worst forms of child labour, including trafficking, armed conflict, slavery, sexual exploitation and hazardous work. The elimination of child labour is therefore a global challenge that needs to be addressed urgently. The ILO has developed a Global Action Plan against child labour and it urges member states to eliminate all worst forms of child labour by 2016.

In Malawi a number of studies have been done to estimate the extent of the problem of child labour. According to the Malawi Child Labour Survey (MCLS) conducted in 2002, 38% of the children aged 5-17 years old were involved in economic activities. This implies that 1.5 million children nation-wide were economically active. The majority of these economically active children, i.e., 1.4 million (93%), were involved in child labour representing a national child labour prevalence rate of 37%.  The MCLS further shows that child labour is particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector which accounts for 54% of the child labourers. Another study conducted by the ILO/IPEC found that in 2002 38% of the children aged 5-17 reported working in the week preceding the survey. The 2003 Malawi’s Initial Report on the CRC reported that approximately 20% of all children under 15 years of age were engaged in child labour and they were working full time and a further 21% were working part-time. The 2006 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) found that 29% of children aged 5-14 years were engaged in child labour.

The MCLS also sampled street children and found that 13% were aged below the age of 10 years while the majority were aged 10-14. Over 8 out of 10 street children were on the streets because of poverty and that about 17% of the boys had ever been engaged in economic activities compared with 12% of the girls. The most common economic activity was begging accounting for 71% of the children who spent more than 9 hours a week on the streets begging. In addition to street children, the MCLS also sampled children engaged in prostitution. The study found that 15% of the girls were aged 10-14 while 85% were aged 15-17 and that over 90% of these had been engaged in the sex trade for less than 3 years. Half of the sampled girls were orphaned while 70% had lost one parent through death or they did not know their whereabouts. It is therefore evident that orphans are more likely to engage in child labour including worst forms of child labour such as prostitution.

These statistics demonstrate that despite many initiatives by the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with social partners and other stakeholders and with support from development partners and civil society organisations to eliminate exploitative child labour, the problem is still prevalent.

 

The Solution

Centre for Youth and Development implemented a Pilot “Child Labour Elimination through Awareness Project (CLEAP)” project to eliminate child labour in the bwengu area in Malawi. The aimed to

 

  • tackle the social and economic forces that perpetuate child labour
  • strengthen and enable local structures to sustainably eliminate child labour
  • improve access to and quality of basic education
  • protect children that are working legally.

The project resulted in the reduction of the social acceptance of child labour, strengthening of local structures for the elimination of child labour.